According to the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN):
Impact investments are investments made with the intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. Impact investments can be made in both emerging and developed markets, and target a range of returns from below market to market rate, depending on investors’ strategic goals.
The growing impact investment market provides capital to address the world’s most pressing challenges in sectors such as sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, conservation, microfinance, and affordable and accessible basic services including housing, healthcare, and education.
The term “impact investing” was first used by The Rockefeller Foundation in 2007 to describe investments that are made with the intention of generating both a financial return and a social and/or environmental impact.