Impact Investing and Microfinance are vastly different, yet, fundamentally the same when it comes to making a positive social impact. Both of them aim to generate financial benefits and returns while simultaneously promoting positive social change. Impact investments can generate enough financial return to contribute to a multitude of societal issues, including climate change, renewable and green energy, job generation, and other social causes.
Microfinance, on the other hand, is aimed at backward and low-income individuals in need of financial aid. This includes short-term loans of small amounts, insurance, consumer loans, payment systems, and more. Microfinance is a subset of impact investing. However, impact investing can include investments in microfinance, as this industry is the largest receiver of impact investments.
Impact investments play a crucial role in cultural, social, and environmental impact as these investments hold the key to unlocking private capital. This allows investors to contribute to solving a wide array of issues, like sustainable agriculture, affordable housing, healthcare, education, etc.
Microfinance is the concept of providing banking services and other financial provisions for low-income individuals who are in poverty. This service is also extended to unemployed people, who might not have access to financial services otherwise. The objective of microfinance is to allow low-income and unemployed individuals to take small and reasonable business loans safely, and in accordance with ethical lending or loaning practices.
The microfinance industry was initially launched by keeping these small-scale loans in mind with microcredit as the provision for the target audience. This case of social investment in microcredit review has been a huge success in the microfinance industry. Microfinance includes but isn’t limited to savings, microinsurance, consumer loans, payment systems, checking accounts, etc. We can also use microfinance as a tool to fight corruption by positively impacting society with this.
Impact Investment comes under the umbrella of socially responsible investing. Generally speaking, it is an investment strategy that allows you to invest and generate financial and social benefits from firms and non-profit organizations while simultaneously having a positive environmental or social impact from these investments.
Investors who practice impact investing heavily depend on the company’s commitment or impact activity of their corporate impact on social responsibilities and how they dedicate themselves to positively serving society. Impact investment can be practiced in various different industries which included but aren’t limited to education, healthcare, agriculture, energy generation, etc.
What is the Difference Between Microfinance and Impact Investors?
Microfinance is a subset of Impact Investing aimed towards providing financial aid to financially backward individuals whereas Impact Investing by itself is a type of investment made into non-profit firms, organizations, companies, etc with the aim to generate financial returns and benefits. Impact investing is a type of socially responsible investing where the investor invests in a company or organization based on its commitment to social issues and its impact in solving them.
There are numerous benefits to impact investing like reduced risk for individual investors, allowing them to expand their portfolios and diversify them, opening new doors and opportunities for social corporations and increasing their chances of gaining funds, and positive impact on society by improving corporate behavior.
Microfinance is a banking service targeted toward low-income or unemployed individuals to help them with financial aid and services. This initiative was launched keeping people suffering through poverty in mind and providing them with services they otherwise would not have access to. These services can be looked at as product innovation at the base of the pyramid.
How and What Can Impact Investors Learn from Microfinance?
Although Impact Investing and Microfinance may have some similarities, as they are both heavily dependent on societal issues and solving them yet they are fundamentally quite different. Impact Investors can learn quite a lot from the history of Microfinance and its timeline of events.
Microfinance is an industry that was once in a similar stage as impact investing currently, which gives us a lot of common ground to cover and learn from. Microfinance is also the largest single sector that receives the most impact investments.
Microfinance plays a pivotal role in designing financial services for China’s marginalized population. One of the most successful efforts done by the microfinance industry is non-financial returns which is something the impact investing community can highly benefit from.
However, impact investment is similar in terms of application, as it may be beneficial in some contexts, while not so much in others. For example, the impact of digital field applications is usually good. Thus, it is better to employ impact investment as a complement to some scenarios to ensure success in other legitimate development approaches.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What do impact investors look for?
Impact investing is basically the practice of investing in a company or organization based on its social impact activity. Impact Investors usually look for a company’s commitment to green and renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, affordable healthcare and housing, microfinance, innovative and new technologies to fight the environmental crisis, addressing social issues, etc.
Q2. Is microfinance a part of impact investing?
Yes, microfinance is a subset of impact investing. Impact investing is the investment made with the intention of generating social and financial benefits. This type of investment spans a wide range of industries and can even take the form of an investment in microfinance.
Q3. What motivates impact investors?
Impact investors are simply motivated by the want to facilitate positive social change. People practicing impact investing are motivated by a number of facts that include but aren’t limited to the drive to commit and solve environmental issues, poverty issues, unemployment problems, and other societal issues. Impact investment is based essentially on the heart and science of client assessment.
Microfinance and Impact Investment play a pivotal role in positive societal impact. Microfinance, even though a part of impact investing, is very different. Microfinance is a banking service focused on helping people with low income and in poverty. Whereas impact investing is heavily focused on creating a positive societal and environmental impact through funding corporations committed to doing the same.
Gaining financial returns, in addition to societal and environmental benefits, also play a major role in these investments. This is also exactly where microfinance differs from impact investment, as microfinance isn’t limited to financial returns but also involves non-financial returns.
- Jonas Taylor is a financial expert and experienced writer with a focus on finance news, accounting software, and related topics. He has a talent for explaining complex financial concepts in an accessible way and has published high-quality content in various publications. He is dedicated to delivering valuable information to readers, staying up-to-date with financial news and trends, and sharing his expertise with others.