Access to clean water and sanitation

Enabling overall access to water for underserved populations through investments in water storage, irrigation and job creation for production; the production of clean and affordable water, including enhancing portability; water cleaning and irrigation treatment.

Access to education

Enabling overall access for underserved populations through investments in teacher education; investing in the development of physical infrastructure, including construction of schools; overall improvements to education systems; providing access to new students and families; improvements in teacher training and student attendance; reduction or mitigation of fees; textbook distribution; school provided meals, etc.

Access to energy

Enabling overall access for underserved populations in energy purchase, consumption and storage; development of cost-effective energy production and storage related products; certification and licensure of new efficient products and practices; energy generated for large scale sale, including, underserved markets; savings from smart technology sold or used, etc.

Access to financial services

Enabling overall access for underserved populations through investments in new businesses, small enterprises and microenterprises; supporting and promoting business and household savings; creating access to new loans; building credit; creating jobs by directly supporting new enterprises; provision of insurance or insurance-related products to the underserved, including new small business owners; and development of microfinance related products, etc.

Access to information

Primarily access to information that includes online or network competencies; creation and scale of affordable online marketplaces; development and support of platforms that connect supply and demand actors within a given industry, across peers and/or mentors; providing access to technical guides and training, along with additional resources, etc.

Affordable housing

Low-income housing development; financing of new affordable housing units; developing and investing in housing units for individuals in transition, including the formerly incarcerated or those living with mental disabilities; improvements to existing affordable housing infrastructure; new business created in low income areas due to housing development management, etc.

Agricultural productivity

Support of smallholder farming and cooperatives development; production explicitly for consumption by underserved communities; efficient development of products; sustainably managed land and development of sustainable farming practices; improvement of product certifications and practices etc.

Biodiversity/Natural resource conservation

Engagement in biodiversity assessment and benchmarking; design and implementation of biodiversity policies, both for organizations and investments; policies and programs around the protection of threatened species; creation and implementation of conservation policies and/or practices, etc.

Capacity building

Individuals and organizations that provide third party technical assistance to nonprofit and for-profit social enterprise stakeholders; inclusive of pro bono provisions of services, etc.

Community development

Community connectivity projects; adjudication and conciliation for community-level conflict; investments by/to community development financial institutions (CDFIs), local or cooperative business creation and sustainability; local or cooperative employment generation, local or cooperative services available at low cost; investment in community facilities, including infrastructure and real-estate, etc.

Conflict resolution

Improve basic welfare for people in need due to conflict – political or otherwise; support for conflict resolution programs and services; supporting entrepreneurs focused on promoting peace; investments in high impact conflict markets; conciliation and arbitration services etc.

Disease specific prevention and mitigation

Addressing specific diseases; providing direct treatment or investment into mitigation or prevention of disease; medicinal or drug provisions for a specific disease, including: epidemic and/or pandemic; education and training on family management of disease; investment in programs that help inform proper disease management, etc.

Employment generation

Increases in job training and/or vocational services; efforts to increase job placement rates; developing alternatives for individuals currently in the informal work sector; investment in skills training and job up-training programs; etc.

Energy and fuel efficiency

Development and implementation of energy conservation strategies; tracking and reporting on energy saved, including cost implications; strategies developed to conserve fuel consumption and/or pursue alternative energy strategies, etc.

Environmental policies and performance

Development of measurement frameworks and/or policies that focus on water resource management; greenhouse gas and carbon emissions reduction; resource renewability tracking, etc.

Equality and empowerment, Minorities/Previously excluded populations

Number of clients or beneficiaries served that include previously excluded populations and/or minorities; provision of skills-based training to provide access to new employment opportunities for these groups; increasing access to development assets for excluded populations, including education, healthcare, etc.; efforts to invest in businesses, start-ups, etc. championed by members of these groups, etc.

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors are a set of standards or criteria for a company’s operations. Often, investors can apply consideration of ESG factors to determine if a company meets the investor’s values on socially conscious criteria. Factors assess a range of issues across environmental, operational, governance and labor factors, including but not limited to stewardship of the natural environment, relationship with employees and labor force, leadership diversity and executive pay. ESG considerations are quickly becoming a natural component of operational and risk evaluation. ESG may be referred to as “ESG investing” “Socially Responsible Investing” or “Responsible Investing.” (Source: US SIF)

Food security

Efforts to stabilize volatile agriculture and foodstuffs prices; enabling access to sustainable and affordable food suppliers; improving both economic and physical access to safe and nutritious food; transforming unusable food and water to viable assets, etc.

Generate funds for charitable giving

Includes nonprofit aggregators and giving platforms or pledgers who mobilize capital for charitable purposes; can include in-kind, individual volunteer service or access to charitable funding sources, etc.


GIIRS Ratings are rigorous, comprehensive and comparable ratings of a company or a fund’s social and environmental impact. GIIRS ratings are a standard for funds  that manage their portfolio’s impact with the same rigor as their financial performance.

Governance and ownership

Enhancements to board and staff diversity, across gender and race; efforts to strengthen disclosure and transparency of senior level decision-making; improvements to proxy engagement and activism; mitigation of staff turnover and increased positive employee engagement; additional training and qualification services provided; efforts to verifiably mitigate litigation and corruption risk, etc.

Health improvement

Provision of health access, services and resources for underserved individuals; affordable provision of health-related insurance products, coverage or pharmaceuticals; treatment of long-term disease or improvement to disease-affected quality of life; mitigation of prohibitive cost and access to pharmaceutical goods; reduction of surplus or distribution inefficiencies, etc.

Human rights protection or expansion

Development of anti-discrimination policies and practices; mitigation of unfair labor practices; protection of child workers and/or disabled peoples; strong anti-discrimination policies; strengthening basic human rights and access in communities and the workplace, etc.

Impact Investing

Investments made into companies, organizations and funds with the intention to generate social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. Impact investments can be made in both emerging and developed markets and are intended to be measurable. (Source: The GIIN)


Provision of financial services to low income individuals, primarily low income households, through access to affordable services and income producing activities. Micro-entrepreneurs and small businesses are often recipients of micro-credit. Each of these groups generally have access to assets, borrowing histories or face prohibitive borrowing costs. (Source: Microfinance Gateway)

Pollution prevention and waste management

Efforts to reduce waste; design and implementation of organizational policies on waste reduction and recycling; efforts to reduce and mitigate greenhouse gas and carbon emissions; real-estate recycling and efficient physical asset use; wastewater treatment, etc. (Source: Microfinance Gateway)

Real assets

Real assets are physical and tangible non-financial assets that have value due to their inherent qualities. Real assets often include precious metals or real estate, inclusive of land, property and machinery.

Seed capital

Initial capital sought or raised when starting a business. Often includes slightly smaller amounts of capital from within personal assets, personal networks or specialty investors.

Socially Responsible Investing (SRI)

An investment discipline that considers environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors as necessary criteria to create long term competitive financial returns, alongside social impact. Generally relates to public assets, including frequent use of “screens” to demonstrate investor values. Also known as “Sustainable Investing,” “Socially Conscious Investing” or “Ethical Investing.” (Source: US SIF)

Sustainable land use

Management and development of land that incorporates biodiversity considerations; conservation efforts for existing assets; plans and policies for forest use and management; and assessment of environmental footprint of existing assets.

Water resources management

Organizations that provide water conservation offerings to consumers; organizations that help identify products or methods that conserve water, including sustainable low-flow products, rain collection devices, irrigation timers and leak correctors; effectively treating water to achieve improvements in the quality of the water to make it more acceptable for end-use, including drinking, industry or return to the environment, etc.

Women and girls

Targeted engagement of women and girls as beneficiaries and/or clients in value-add services; provision of services to help improve quality of life for these groups; investment into livelihood creation for women owned ventures; programs targeted at mobilizing female employees and leaders; promotion of education access and affordability for girls; protection of women’s rights, safety, security and livelihood, etc.

The inclusion of any information within the Impact Investing Network Map is not an indication of an endorsement, recommendation or advisement with regard to any investment decisions. Data updated 10/30/2023