What constitutes impact? Definition, motives, measurement and reporting considerations in an African impact investment market

Impact investing in South Africa

  • Prof Suzette Viviers Stellenbosch University


Impact investing is the fastest growing responsible investment strategy and has the potential to address many of the environmental and socio-economic challenges faced by humanity. Some scholars, however, claim that definitional ambiguity confounds impact measurement and hence reduces the attractiveness of this investment strategy. To investigate this claim, semi-structured personal interviews were conducted with 13 experienced impact investors in a large African market. Participants did not regard definitional ambiguity as a serious barrier, but found it difficult to identify and articulate specific impact objectives that could match their financial return expectations. Investors called for more training and information sharing platforms.