Athena Capital’s Jeff Finkelman Speaks to FundFire on How Impact Investors are Embracing “Financial Inclusion” Strategies

To the growing list of impact investing themes that are attracting investor interest, you can now add financial inclusion efforts that seek to broaden access to economic opportunities and financial services for disadvantaged individuals, small businesses, and communities, according to FundFire.

FundFire’s Tom Stabile reports that financial inclusion strategies “may soon join climate change and gender equality as a prime area for new capital,” in an article published on December 5, 2018.

Impact investing strategies geared toward financial inclusion often focus on improving access to financial services and credit, but the space is much broader than that. For instance, programs that seek to improve access to better education, healthcare, or housing also qualify under this theme.

Jeff Finkelman, senior research associate for impact investments at Athena Capital, told Stabile that what makes financially oriented impact strategies so appealing is that they often align with the underlying goal of potentially generating strong returns. “Building a business to provide financial services that can reach millions requires financial sustainability, which also can mean profits,” Finkelman said.

He added that the addressable market is large and that financial inclusion strategies can also dovetail with impact investors’ interests in alleviating poverty and helping communities in the developing world. This has attracted many approaches, says Finkelman, with some managers tackling financial inclusion with dedicated funds, while others add such deals to broader impact strategies.

The full article is available online to subscribers of FundFire and can be accessed here.

Athena Capital published a landscape review on the topic of “Financial Inclusion in Emerging & Frontier Markets,” which can be accessed here.

Jeff Finkelman is a senior research associate, impact investments, at Athena Capital, where he concentrates on ESG and impact investing across all asset classes. He joined Athena Capital from the U.S. Small Business Administration, having served as an investment officer within the SBA’s Office of Investment and Innovation.