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Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship

Research Accelerator Grant Awardee 2017: Karim Harji

Mapping impact expectations among impact investors

'Impact investing has gained much momentum in recent years. It can be distinguished from conventional investing by two key features – the intentionality of the capital to seek a blended financial and social return, and impact measurement to assess realised impact. Despite the impressive growth in the amount of capital mobilised and deployed, both theory and practice around impact measurement remain underdeveloped.

'While there is a broad range of tools and methods by which impact can be measured, the choices around why and what to measure are arguably as important as what and how to measure. One example is the limited examination of impact expectations – as a proxy for intentionality – across various impact investor segments. Investor expectations are important to signal the demands of capital, as well as to influence product structuring and impact reporting.

'This project aims to analyze the impact expectations of a range of impact investors, building on an emerging convention developed by the Impact Management Project (IMP). The objectives will be to test and apply the components of the convention in practice, through application to different segments of impact investors. This early-stage exploratory research seeks to elevate the importance of academic research within a field that has largely been practitioner and industry-led.

'This project aims to develop a typology to situate investors based on their impact expectations, describe the common tools and practices they use (or could use), and illustrate the types of choices and issues they consider around impact measurement. In doing so, this project will also provide clarity and guidance to both new and established impact investors on impact measurement practices, tools and choices.'

About Karim Harji

Karim Harji is a Co-Founder and Director at Purpose Capital, an impact investment advisory firm based in Toronto, Canada. He advises asset owners and asset managers – including foundations, financial institutions, family offices and social finance intermediaries – on the design, implementation, and evaluation of impact investment strategies. He co-authored the strategic assessment of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Impact Investing Initiative, and the global landscape review, Accelerating Impact: Achievements, Challenges and What’s Next in Building the Impact Investing Industry.

Karim has a decade of international experience in impact measurement and evaluation and is currently a Fellow with The Impact Management Project hosted by Bridges Ventures. He was previously an Advisor to the Rockefeller Foundation on social impact measurement, a Consultant with the MasterCard Foundation on evaluating youth employment and entrepreneurship programs in sub-Saharan Africa, a Senior Manager with Social Capital Partners, and a Member of the Impact Measurement Working Group of the G8 Social Impact Investment Task Force.

Karim is currently a DPhil candidate at Kellogg College, University of Oxford, where his research focuses on impact measurement for impact investing. He has taught in the Oxford Impact Investing Programme, and recently co-developed executive education curriculum on 'Evaluating Impact Investing' with several African-based institutions. He holds a Masters degree in Public Administration from Carleton University and an Honours BA in Economics from McMaster University.

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