Fifteen years ago, the term ‘impact investing’ was introduced to the world. By now it has become a household name in global finance for investing with the intention to generate social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. 
In 2007 Triodos IM embraced the term impact investing. Not only to strengthen the whole sector but also to strengthen what we had been doing for, at that time, over 25 years. The practice of making money work for positive change is, of course, much older, under different names. We believed that embracing what we were doing – investing in renewable energy, microfinance and sustainable food and agriculture, to name a few - under this one term, would help in the communication with our investors. And that it would also contribute to accelerate the growth of the sector. 
And it did. Impact investment has become a recognised term in the mainstream investment industry. What started as a niche has grown into USD 715 billion of impact assets according to the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN).   
Apart from impact investing offering investable solutions to address today’s global challenges, its creation and rise serves another very important purpose: changing the way we look at investing. Bringing us back to the very core of investing: serving the real needs in society, serving the real economy. 
The typical investment equation doesn’t include the impact on communities or the environment. It focuses on risk and return only. The impact of the investment is often not included in the investment decision, neither the positive nor the negative impact. This is strange, as most people usually have a broader perspective on the consequences of their decisions. The rise of impact investing has made clear that investors increasingly take the social and environmental impact – both negative and positive - into account in their investment decisions. More and more, investors look at the ‘true return’ of their investments and are increasingly replacing their risk-return lens with an impact-risk-return lens when looking at investments.  
This requires investors to look beyond the numbers and to bring back human judgement and common sense. It requires the willingness and effort to really know what your money is doing. And it requires self-knowledge about what you really value. Because only then can money be invested consciously.