Promoting impact investing

A twofold objective

First used in the United States in 2007, the term “impact investing” has been defined by the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) as an investment that has a measurable social and environmental impact while providing a financial return.

Impact investing is a growing market in France, made up of dedicated managers, committed entrepreneurs and concerned investors. Players share the common goal of supporting entrepreneurial responses to societal challenges, with a twofold objective of impact and financial return. For over 10 years, France Invest has been encouraging and promoting these impact funds through its Impact Commission.

Positive externalities

Impact refers to the positive social and/or environmental externalities that are expected from investments (the “why” or “outcome” approach). It is assessed in relation to specific, ex-ante defined impact objectives, based on investors’ intentions and, where appropriate, the businesses in which they invest. The impact themes are as diverse as the impact investors themselves, but examples include job creation in difficult areas, access to essential services for low-income populations (access to education, health, electricity), net reduction in GHG emissions per unit of output, etc.


Three characteristics together define impact investing:


Intentionality, which corresponds to the investor’s desire to generate a measurable social or environmental benefit and thus contribute to sustainable development;


Additionality, which is the contribution of the investment to the impact;


The measurability of the impact and, where performance is remunerated, aligning the interests of the investment team and the investors.

France Invest and the Forum pour l’Investissement Responsable (Responsible Investment Forum) have published a joint booklet produced by and for impact investing actors in France: Investissement à impact : une définition exigeante pour le coté et le non-coté (Impact Investing: a rigorous definition for listed and unlisted companies).