Boston, MA (PressExposure) April 12, 2011 -- Impact investment advocacy and analysis group, Alternative Asset Analysis (AAA), has said it supports the Global Impact Investment Network's Impact Reporting and Investment Standards (IRIS).
A growing number of wealthy investors are looking for projects to place their money that will offer a socially responsible investment opportunity that nurtures projects in developing countries and hold scope for returns later down the line. This is known as impact investing and the issue has become increasingly high profile in light of the success of projects sponsored by large funds such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
AAA says that these projects have had major positive influences on people's lives and the environment over a reasonably short space of time. One example of a success story is the Kenyan rose farming industry. After an expose in 2003, the world suddenly became aware that the $500m industry's practices were harmful to the people and the environment in the Lake Naivasha region of Kenya. Now, thanks to the investment - which was even more necessary after drought and flood hit the region, leaving the workers desperate to establish a sustainable living - the industry has transformed.
Better working conditions and a renewed focus on sustainability have emerged. However, AAA's Anthony Johnson has said it is not always easy for investors to establish and evaluate the true impact their investment will make. It is also sometimes challenging to know whether a project is truly beneficial to all parties and to the environment. Many controversial areas like biofuels can split opinion as to what is an ethical investment and what is the opposite.
"This is where the IRIS comes in," stated Mr Johnson. "The IRIS provides a standardised format through which businesses report their social and environmental performances, helping investors to understand the impact being made by organisations they are interested in."
The Global Impact Investment Network has said, "IRIS aims to increase the value of non-financial data by enabling performance comparisons and benchmarking, while also streamlining and simplifying reporting requirements for companies and their investors."
For individuals looking for projects to invest in, but who have more modest bank accounts, excellent ethical investment opportunities can be found in Brazil, according Mr Johnson. Plantation firms like Greenwood Management are growing sustainable crops of non-native trees such as Teak, which help to support projects and legislation that prevents deforestation.