New database aims to crack lack of information in impact investing

Thursday, 5 September 2013 01:01 GMT

A screengrab shows the homepage of ImpactSpace, a new open database for people involved in impact investing. The site was launched on Sept 4, 2013. THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION/ImpactSpace

Image Caption and Rights Information
Impact investing, a nascent financial sector designed to generate social and environmental benefits as well as financial returns, is gaining traction but suffers from a lack of comprehensive data about deals and the actual impact investments are having.

SAN FRANCISCO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) --A new open database launched on Wednesday will enable players in the global impact investing market to navigate almost 2,300 impact companies and aims to bring more transparency to the sector, its founders say.

ImpactSpace, billed as a first-of-its-kind database, hopes to make information about the impact investing market available to everyone -and maintainable by anyone—and to provide a comprehensive picture of the companies, investors and deals in the sector.

Impact investing, a nascent financial sector designed to generate social and environmental benefits as well as financial returns, is gaining traction but suffers from a lack of comprehensive data about deals and the actual impact investments are having.

“ImpactSpace fills a crucial gap in impact information: real-time deal news that illuminates who’s putting down how much on what and why, “ said David Bank, CEO of Impact IQ, the company behind ImpactSpace.

“The industry has this feeling of ‘we’re all great and we’re making a difference’ but nobody knows if we’re actually making a difference,” added co-founder Ravi Kurani.

Anyone involved in the impact investing industry can sign up  to create and edit profiles of impact companies, impact investors and their own company.

“If you're an entrepreneur you can look for other ventures or deals in your geography, sector, see who the investors are - and if you're investor and you're considering a deal you can see similar transactions, potential partners and assemble a competitive or landscape analysis,” Bank told Thomson Reuters Foundation at SOCAP, an annual social investment conference currently under way in San Francisco, where the ImpactSpace site was launched.

Bank compared ImpactSpace to CrunchBase, a leading source of information about deals for technology entrepreneurs and investors.

THE NEED FOR TRANSPARENCY

“The problem in impact investing is that it’s all private, there is no requirement for disclosure,” Bank said. “Everyone likes the other guy to be transparent but doesn’t necessarily want to be transparent themselves. We want to make a case that part of your impact is to be transparent about your deal.”

ImpactSpace also includes resources such as directories, best practices, research and support organisations. The resources have been specifically curated for startup and growth companies, individual and institutional investors, and financial advisors and wealth managers.

“This kind of transparency in market information is key to moving the impact investing field forward,” John Goldstein, managing director of Imprint Capital, told Impact IQ. “We shouldn’t be struggling to understand the market, we should be struggling to move the market forward with smart decisions that drive impact.”

Key sponsorship supports comes from Liquidnet, the global institutional trading network, through its active corporate impact program called Liquidnet For Good. Other partners include Equilibrium Capital, Imprint Capital and SOCAP.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.