In the last decade, impact investments have become an international trend to address global challenges in the areas of environment, welfare, health, employment, and education.
In light of the development of the impact investments’ field, we recommend familiarizing yourself with several terms that may help when examining investments in general and impact investments in particular:
Impact Investing –
Impact investments are financial investments that also consider how social or environmental factors contribute to the value of the investment, in addition to the financial value such investments present. Investments can be made, inter alia, in a corporation that produces commercial solutions to environmental and/or social problems as part of its business model, while measuring the social impact and the economic return of the investment. In this context, it should be noted that it is possible to quantify the social return through certain indexes, such as the ESG Index and the Israeli Maala Index (as defined below).
Impact Fund –
An impact fund is a fund that raises money from investors in order to invest it in entities that yield a financial return and a quantifiable social return. The principles guiding an impact fund are generally investments in corporations viewed as advancing social or environmental causes, as well as corporations viewed as active in the ESG field (Environmental, Social, Governance), in accordance with the fund’s framework. The management composition of an impact fund generally includes managers from both the ESG field and financial fields.
Social Bonds –
Social bonds enable fundraising from investors in order to fund social goals as well as defined social plans. When the plans succeed, the public entity that issued the bonds, or the state, make payments for the bonds that increase as the social outcomes of the plans, or the goals, improve. Investors in social bonds are generally sophisticated investors with familiarity and experience in the capital market. In Israel, non-profit corporations (such as associations (Amutot) or public benefit companies) issue a number of social bonds. One example is the issuance of social bonds to increase the number of math graduates of advanced high school math programs in Rahat, bya company called Social Finance Israel, incorporated as a public benefit company.
Benefit Corporations (B Corporations) –
B Corporations are corporations committed to social causes. These corporations operate differently than regular businesses as they adopt a “double bottom line” model. In other words, these corporations have a twofold purpose—producing financial gains and, in parallel, working toward societal welfare in terms of environmental protections, employment and labor protections, etc.
ESG Index –
The ESG Index measures the environmental, social, or governance aspects of a corporation. Each company evaluated on the index receives a numerical grade and a ranking on the index’s numerical scale. The ESG Index forms an international standard of sorts, whereby investors from around the world can examine the social aspects of a company (if any) that are not included in its financial reports. The ESG Index’s evaluation process involves a large number of criteria. These include human rights, environmental protections, business conduct, community involvement, and more.
Maala Index –
The Maala Index is the Israeli index for corporate social responsibility, which is very similar in nature and criteria to the ESG index. The Maala Index provides investors with information on the extent of social responsibility of Israeli public corporations.
If you would like to discuss the above or require further information, please contact adv. Sagi Gross. Sagi provides legal opinions on a variety of regulatory issues, including antitrust, environmental law, consumer protection, and tenders law.