As Amit Bouri ’07 sees it, the world’s problems have accelerated to a degree that philanthropy alone can’t keep up with. Solving the most pressing problems demands the use of a more powerful resource: impact investing.
“Impact investing brings the power of markets and investment to complement philanthropy,” he explains. “To me, impact investing is about transforming the way we think about money, but also transforming the way we think about solutions to problems.”
Bouri is one of the impact-investing industry’s first and foremost leaders. In 2009, he co-founded the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) at the 5th Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative and was named CEO in January 2015. A nonprofit organization, GIIN is dedicated to building infrastructure and developing activities, education and research that attracts more investment capital to poverty alleviation and environmental solutions. Its goal is to increase the scale, efficiency and effectiveness of impact investing by addressing systematic barriers and establishing industry-wide metrics.
“We want impact investing to be just as rigorous as conventional investing,” Bouri explains. “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.”
To that end, GIIN developed IRIS, a catalog of generally accepted performance metrics tied to impact investing. Currently, more than 5,000 organizations use IRIS to evaluate, communicate and manage their social and environmental performance.
“Establishing standardized, credible social and environmental metrics is absolutely critical for the growth of the industry,” explains Bouri. “Without them, we aren’t relying on data; we’re relying on anecdotes.”
Bouri’s journey to impact investing can be traced back to his Kellogg days, when the CEO says he was exposed to diverse perspectives while receiving training in finance, marketing, social enterprise and leadership. Post-graduation, he became a strategy consultant at the Monitor Institute, where he helped produce the Investing for Social & Environmental Impact report. In 2008, he was one of a handful of investors called upon by the Rockefeller Foundation to assess the potential of impact investing. GIIN was formed shortly thereafter.
While the organization — and the industry itself — has grown tremendously since then, Bouri notes that there is still much work to be done.
“This progress is only the tip of the iceberg,” Bouri says. “We hope that eventually everyone invests a portion of their assets in impact investing.”