OPINION: We Need to Prove Impact Investing Makes a Difference
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
“I’d heard Egypt was doing really well according to all the metrics that we pay attention to at the World Bank,” said Aleem Walji of the World Bank Institute at a Federal Reserve conference in 2011. “Investment was up, returns were good, we were investing in all the right sectors, or so we thought.”
Then the Arab Spring happened. Clearly, the World Bank’s metrics had not captured the deep frustration of Egyptian youth, who were cut out of the supposedly expanding economy there.
Around the same time, the Latin American Youth Center, a Washington charity, was running a parenting program that included a few new sessions on preventing domestic violence. According to most measures, the center was successful: It was serving more than 4,000 individuals each year.
But when Isaac Castillo, who was then the center’s director of learning and evaluation, reviewed participants’ tests before and after the classes, he realized something had gone terribly wrong. The domestic-violence sessions were changing participants’ attitudes in the wrong direction: More young parents were leaving the program believing that domestic violence was an acceptable expression of love.