Most helpful critical review
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Incomplete Book - Misrepresents the entire picture of Impact Investing
on October 29, 2012
As someone who considers themselves active and engaged in the world of impact investing, I was upset with the lack of tangible information that this book presented. Rather than (what felt like at times in the book) going in circles about the concepts of impact investing and the vision of what the future might hold, I would have found it much more beneficial to dive into the detail and case studies of impact investing from top organizations that are just mentioned in the book like Acumen Fund and Root Capital. I think the details of how these models operated, including their shortcomings, would have been much more beneficial to readers than many concepts the book dwelled on in great detail.
Also, I think the book failed to bring up or provide valuable information about many key aspects of the world of impact investing, such Muhammad Yunus' concept of Social Business which is growing in popularity and the opportunity for a Social Stock Exchange. Perhaps this is because one of the authors was a founder of a very controversial microfinance bank and, from my viewpoint, talking about these topics would go against the values that he believes in which pushed that bank to it's controversial IPO.
Additionally, I believe there were some misstated or under-explained parts of the book which, for me, took away its ability to be a valuable collection of information that I would recommend to my friends interested in this space. One example is that there is a reference in the book that Muhammad Yunus is a supporter of non-profit microfinance, when his for-profit bank (Grameen Bank in Bangladesh) is perhaps the most famous microfinance bank in the world. Also, the author talks lightly about the controversy around the investors in Comportamos and SKS gaining massive amounts of wealth in their IPO's, but doesn't talk about the details of the controversy - such as the interest rates of Comportamos that led to it's profit margins (80-100%) and the cruel collection methods of SKS that contributed to it's rapid expansion, many suicides, and (in part) the Indian microcredit bubble. I can't help but think that the authors left this information out on purpose to present a particular image of impact investing which doesn't accurately represent the entire space.
Lastly - as someone who does have enough wealth to be identified as an "accredited investor," I would have liked to learn more about the current landscape and future potential of retail-level impact investments.