Developing the Impact Ecosystem in Asia
Asia offers vast potential for impact to occur at scale. To fully realise this potential and elevate lives and livelihoods across the region, we need to expand the Asia impact ecosystem and encourage more stakeholders to take positive action.
From our field learnings and gaps identified, we believe that building this Asia impact ecosystem will require individual and collective efforts from a broad range of stakeholders, including investors, companies, researchers, networks, service providers, and regulators.
While unity will be key, each stakeholder also has a distinct and critical role:
- Investors and companies are core drivers and executors of impact. Investors contribute directly to impact capital flows through their allocation. As active stewards, investors can also drive investments to scale and progress in their impact journey. Companies meanwhile can create impact by adopting impact strategies, aligning business models and transforming organisational structures to effectively execute towards impact outcomes.
- Industry and academic researchers will define and improve baseline understanding of impact across key sectors in Asia. Valuable primary research on social and environment issues and secondary research such as sector indices, investor maps, and market sizes critically inform investment strategies and impact approaches.
- Educational and training institutes are needed to nurture a strong talent pool. We need to integrate impact into mainstream curricular to build the impact proficiency among existing and future generations of capital providers, fund managers, business founders and leaders.
- Service providers will amplify knowledge and accelerate impact proficiency in the market. These service providers include strategic advisors, data providers, and technology developers who are helping to build both the hard and soft infrastructure of the impact eco-system.
- Independent associations, supra national agencies, and non-government actors help define and promote impact standards. These impartial bodies establish guiding principles for goal-setting, impact metrics, taxonomies, and promote successful impact stories that inspire others to follow.
- Networking organisations such as the AVPN are valuable platforms to further the exchange of ideas on impact. Through this, ecosystem players can gather to generate much needed discourse on impact, and mobilise collective action.
- Finally, a favourable regulatory climate will enable impact investing to thrive and further spur the growth of impact practices by companies in Asia.
Key Actions for Impact Organisations: Preliminary Recommendations
1. Start now – Do not let perfect be the enemy of good.
While impact-related problems may seem large, and the space continues to evolve with changing standards and expectations, it is more important to do something than to do nothing at all. It is better to make mistakes along the way and adapt your course of action than be plagued by inaction.
2. Be rigorous in your approach.
There is a wealth of resources that provide guidance on how to integrate impact into the organisation in a rigorous manner at all levels. Look out also for case studies that can serve as inspiration and learnings for the development of your own impact intent and strategy.
3. Think about impact strategically and comprehensively.
Investors and businesses who are serious about impact embed it at all levels of their organisation: at the core fund or business strategy and across all decision-making and management processes and systems of accountability.
4. Start measuring impact, both positive and negative.
Only what is measured can be managed. It is critical for all organisations to take ownership of their own impact measurement through primary data collection, while collaborating with others and championing for better standardisation and harmonisation of metrics and taxonomies to establish better infrastructure at the ecosystem level.
This is the time for collective action among investors, companies, research institutions, philanthropic organisations, NGOs, governments, and the community. Achieving our vision for a sustainable future is not a zero-sum game. To succeed, all types of capital and practitioners have to come together, to build a robust impact ecosystem in Asia, for Asia.This is adapted from our 2022 report “Scaling Impact in Asia: Achieving Purpose and Profit, by CIIP, Accenture and SMU”.