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The Demand Side of Impact Investing

Elevating the perspectives of local entrepreneurs in the impact sector

Development practitioners often view impact investing as an important tool for alleviating poverty. They tout the ability of impact investing to leverage private sector investment to complement limited public sector, foundation, or development assistance funds, as well as the potential to harness efficiencies of market-based approaches. With such a focus on attracting investment capital, research on impact investing is often conducted from the perspective of the investor, failing to account for the perspective of the impact entrepreneur on the ground. In particular, little primary research has concentrated on those who applied for impact investment funding but were turned down.

This research focused on the experiences of 38 local impact entrepreneurs in Kenya, India, and Mexico, conducting interviews with entrepreneurs who received impact investments, and those who were turned down. It found that there is a perception that investors have not sufficiently considered the nuanced dimensions of the local context in which the entrepreneurs operate. This report details the ways in which local impact entrepreneurs have experienced the impact investing process, including the expectations of and communications with investors.

A comprehensive literature review on impact investing was conducted as a way of grounding the primary research. This report discusses findings from interviews mapped to the different stages of impact investing, provides recommendations, and creates an entrepreneur-centric checklist that impact investors can incorporate into their decision-making process. The checklist may prove particularly helpful given the wide interest in impact investing as a tool for achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a global program adopted by the United Nations in 2015 for alleviating poverty and improving environmental and other outcomes by 2030.


Jessica Jones


Oxfam America

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