Amit Bouri '07
Director of Strategy and Development, Global Impact Investing Network
The world's problems are in many ways accelerating faster than our capacity to solve them. Historically, we've relied primarily on philanthropy and government aid to solve social problems. Impact investing brings the power of markets and investment to complement philanthropy in addressing the world's most pressing problems. To me, impact investing is about transforming the way we think about money, but also transforming the way we think about solutions to problems.
My work in impact investing has directly benefited from my Kellogg education, where I was exposed to diverse perspectives and received training in finance, marketing, social enterprise and leadership. My Kellogg MBA also helped me land a job post-graduation at the Monitor Institute. In early 2008, the Rockefeller Foundation asked us to assess the potential for what is now known as impact investing, but that term wasn't used at the time. What we found was a lot of interest, but there wasn't nearly enough money being invested.
Impact investing had the potential to become a well-formed market, but because it was so young, there were a number of inefficiencies constraining its growth and impact. The Global Impact Investing Network, or GIIN, was created by a community of investors from around the world who wanted an organization that could help propel the development of the industry forward, so that ultimately more money would flow to effective solutions to the world's problems.
GIIN officially launched as a nonprofit organization in September 2009 at the 5th Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative. As director of Strategy and Development, I oversee two of our main focus areas: the Investors' Council, a group of 42 industry leaders who collaborate to direct the industry towards realizing its potential, and our "Outreach" initiative, which is designed to encourage impact investing by publishing industry research and working with the media to disseminate industry information. My co-director oversees another initiative, the Impact Reporting and Investment Standards, or IRIS, a common language for measuring the social, environmental and financial impact of mission-driven organizations.
IRIS is a high priority because establishing standardized, credible social and environmental metrics is absolutely critical for the growth of the industry. Without them, we aren't relying on data; we're relying on anecdotes. We want impact investing to be just as rigorous as conventional investing. When we talk about creating jobs or preventing greenhouse gases or serving poor customers, we need a framework that enables us to understand how we're performing relative to one another, and this requires that we all speak the same language. This past September, we released the first IRIS performance data report that featured aggregated performance data from more than 2,000 organizations.
In the past two years, we've made tremendous progress advancing the industry's development, but this progress is only the tip of the iceberg. We hope that eventually everyone invests a portion of their assets in impact investing.