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Impact investing gets moment in the sun with biggest players revealed


9 October 2019 at 2:47 pm
Maggie Coggan
America’s biggest impact investors are being given a spotlight of their own this year, with Forbes unveiling the nation’s top 50 ethical investors, alongside its annual rich list.


Maggie Coggan | 9 October 2019 at 2:47 pm


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Impact investing gets moment in the sun with biggest players revealed
9 October 2019 at 2:47 pm

America’s biggest impact investors are being given a spotlight of their own this year, with Forbes unveiling the nation’s top 50 ethical investors, alongside its annual rich list.

Forbes and ethical finance group Nuveen released the expanded list at the start of October, featuring America’s top impact investors, divided into net wealth categories. 

Bill and Melinda Gates took the top spot, with their eponymous foundation investing around $2 billion into 70 initiatives and businesses that primarily address healthcare and poverty. 

In the past year, the Gates Foundation has backed the Indonesian app and website Haladoc, which connects patients with doctors for online consultations, and India-based firm CropIn, which uses data to analyze crops. It has also funnelled $55 million into German company BioNTech to develop vaccines for HIV and tuberculosis.    

As of April, the number of organisations managing impact investing assets worldwide has doubled from 2018, with the market worth over $500 billion globally. 

The inclusion of the Impact 50 builds on the introduction in 2018 of a philanthropy measure in the Forbes 400 list that scores the wealthiest Americans on their total lifetime giving and the percentage of their fortune that they have given away. 

Forbes reporters compiled the list by researching all US billionaires as well as members of Forbes’ lists of the highest-paid athletes, highest-earning celebrities and most successful self-made women. 

Impact investors only qualified if they had been investing for a year or more, either with deployed capital or personal investments, and they had to be respected in the field. 

Alice and Jim Walton came in second for spearheading a program that will issue $300 million in bonds to help charter schools invest in new or renovated facilities, and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan followed in third, investing $110 million in over a dozen startups through their Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. 

Amanda Miller, the co-founder of Impact Generation Partners, told Pro Bono News the new list was a reflection of the massive growth the impact investing market had seen over the last year. 

“There is an increasing awareness globally that all investments have impact – some negative, some positive – and pleasingly, more and more investors are intentionally looking for investments that create positive social or environmental impact, as well as providing financial return,” Miller said. 

While Australia produces an annual top 50 philanthropy list, it is yet to develop a top impact investor list. 

Miller said if that were to happen, she would like to see the focus placed on impact achieved over the amount invested. 

“Perhaps it could be tied into the Sustainable Development Goals or another impact measure,” she said.  

The full list can be found here.   


Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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