Impact investment product availability continues to show steady growth globally in its targeted sectors, which include microfinance, affordable housing, renewable energy, and sustainable agriculture. As of early 2016, ImpactBase, a global database of impact investment funds, had over 380 active impact funds registered. Most of these funds were accessible only to institutional and accredited investors. In 2014, a comprehensive market scan of the Canadian sector described almost 50 impact investment product opportunities; however, only a third of these were potentially accessible for retail investors.
Driven by demand from high net worth clients, several mainstream financial institutions are currently developing custom strategies and providing access to impact investment products. These products can be made available through existing channels (e.g., advisors) or through new platforms, although to date there have been limited examples.
Retail impact investment products (for both retail and accredited investors) take many different forms and span across several asset classes. A list of retail impact investment products is provided in Appendix A.
BOX 2.5: Ethiquette
Ethiquette is an independent web platform developed and managed by the Responsible Consumption Observatory of UQÀM’s School of Management Sciences and Ellio. Launched in 2014, it is targeted at individual investors, and provides an interactive platform to explore all forms of responsible investment. In addition to reviewing responsible investment products and strategies, the site also provides guidance and insights for retail investors.
GIIN and USCI (2015) Scaling U.S. Community Investing: The Investor- Product Interface