A Guide for Impact Investment Fund Managers

A step-by-step resource to creating and managing a private equity impact fund

Creating a Strong Investment and Impact Thesis

The number of investment funds increases every year according to the GIIN’s Annual Impact Investor Survey, making it all the more important for a fund to differentiate itself through a compelling investment and impact thesis. A clearly articulated thesis is coherent and evidence-based, stands out among competitors in the market, and can be distilled to a concise and persuasive pitch.

A well-crafted, coherent investment and impact thesis integrates all the pieces of a complex investment strategy into a single narrative that is thoughtful, thorough, and supported by data and other evidence. Impact investment funds have more complex stories to tell than traditional funds, which makes it especially challenging to develop a coherent fund narrative. From the outset, fund managers should have a clear sense of their fund’s intended impact in the context of their investment strategy and managers should be prepared to share it externally.

In crafting a clear fund thesis, fund managers might ask themselves: What existing need in the market does my investment thesis address? What is the evidence that the need exists, and what is the extent of the need? What is the theory of change? What underlying assumptions does the thesis imply? Do my proposed sector of investment, deal size, and deal type fit existing market needs? Do the expected returns and exit strategies seem realistic and appropriate given the market, investee potential, and investor expectations?

Demonstrating how a fund fits into the competitive market landscape is an important part of a coherent story. Fund managers might ask themselves: Would the fund be unique in the marketplace? How is it unique? What would make the fund compelling to investors? How does the fund’s impact strategy compare to others in the market? Answers to these questions influence key fund management practices, such as which types of LPs to target or investee businesses to approach given their capital requirements. For example, a venture capital fund that focuses on early-stage companies in the concept phase expects high risk and high return. The fund management team must also be assembled carefully, as team members’ individual experiences in a given sector or industry and their local relationships can make or break a fund’s success.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

A public good managed by the GIIN, IRIS+ is the generally accepted system for measuring, managing, and optimizing impact. The system, used by thousands of investors around the world, provides a pathway to translate impact intentions into real impact results. With IRIS+ investors can:

  1. Frame their goals in a common way, following generally accepted investment themes (such as Financial Inclusion or Clean Energy Access), the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), or both;
  2. Review existing research and evidence base to inform their impact thesis and theory of change.
  3. Identify key indicators to track in order to assess progress towards their goals in a way that produces clear, consistent, and comparable data (IRIS+ Core Metrics Sets and IRIS Catalog of Metrics); and access best-in-class resources and practical “how-to” guidance to improve their impact measurement and management practice.

In addition, The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE), together with the Latin American Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (LAVCA) and LGT Impact Ventures, published a report about the growing landscape of impact investing in Latin America.

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