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International development

Impact investing: A powerful development tool

December 8, 2022

For over 25 years, Desjardins International Development (DID) has used its own financial resources to empower populations in developing countries. It's all possible through impact investing.

What's impact investing all about?

Impact investments are investments made in companies, organizations and funds with the intention to generate a positive social and environmental impact, alongside a financial return.

Investments are chosen based on how well a company integrates environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria. This is what makes impact investing fundamentally different from other investment approaches.

Dispelling the myths

  • A niche market? The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) estimates the size of the worldwide impact investing market to be US$1.164 trillion.
  • Purely philanthropic? Impact investing isn't an act of charity. Impact investors still seek competitive returns, but they have additional goals that go beyond maximizing their return on investment.
  • Minuscule returns? Studies show that the median impact fund realized a 6.4% return, compared to 7.4% from non-impact funds.

DID's commitment to impact investing

We began our impact investing activities over 25 years ago. Since our expertise combines inclusive finance and development, we've decided to invest in small financial institutions, particularly those in geographic areas that are poorly served, so we can help them develop their range of financial services, ensure their growth and strengthen their governance practices. 

Since 1996, we've carried out 64 investment transactions totalling CAN$70.85 million. By providing vital support to the inclusive financial sector, we're making secure, personalized financial services available to millions of clients and their families.

Our Aequitas fund

With an initial budget of CAD$50 million, our Aequitas fund was designed to support food security, climate action, poverty reduction, gender equality and job creation by promoting financial inclusion of disadvantaged populations. Aequitas' resources are directed where they're likely to have the greatest possible impact: to small institutions and underserved populations, thereby focusing on the sustainable inclusion and economic empowerment of women, youth, entrepreneurs and farmers.

We make high-quality investments with a big social impact by providing the inclusive finance sector with patient capital, prioritizing financial institutions that are too often neglected by large investment funds, and aiming for a broad geographic reach that includes Africa, Latin America and Asia.

Investments from the fund can also be combined with technical assistance, which will enhance their impact on capacity building and achieving the target development goals.