State of the Belgian Impact Investing sector


The world is facing significant social and ecological challenges, as reflected by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The United Nations has set out to achieve global goals such as “zero hunger,” “no poverty,” and “affordable and clean energy” by 2030. Among developed nations, Belgium specifically still faces significant challenges such as income poverty, availability of social housing, and access to renewable energy. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), governments, foundations, and social-purpose organizations are currently trying to address these issues, but not always at the scale or to the extent they would desire. In order to further scale and increase their impact, more funding is needed and more stakeholders must be engaged. Corporations and investors alike are showing an increased willingness to play a part in tackling these global challenges, but there is still an opportunity to do more. It is important to note that impact investing is ultimately a means to an end, where investments are seen as a tool to unlock positive impact to be generated by multiple businesses and organizations.

This report serves as a baseline to map the current state of the Belgian market of impact investing, which is defined as “investments made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate a measurable and beneficial social or environmental impact alongside a financial return.”1 Furthermore, the report studies and identifies the opportunities for growth, with the aim of increasing the amounts invested and the effectiveness of impact investors. This study has investigated the modus operandi of the current Belgian impact investing ecosystem and has produced a first-ever estimation of its market size. It provides a methodological foundation that future research can build on to measure the growth of the overall market. This has been accomplished through primary research (including surveys and more than 60 interviews) as well as secondary research of publicly available data, existing research, and best practices of other countries.

The result of the market sizing reveals a total current impact investment market size ranging from roughly €6 billion to €16 billion, which represents 1.0 to 2.5% of Belgium’s total assets under management (AUM). Depending on the range and assumptions considered, the majority (around 45 to 75%) of this amount originates from investors who are mainly dedicated to impact, while private financial institutions (around 0 to 14%), family offices (around 14 to 15%), institutional investors (up to 2%), private equity and venture capital firms (around 1 to 4%) and other investors (around 10 to 16%) account for the remaining part.

The impact investing market in Belgium still has high growth potential, especially through attracting more investments from traditional investors, who have currently only invested a small fraction of their total AUM toward societal impact. Compared to neighboring countries, it is estimated that the Belgian market size for impact investing could more than double, up to total AUM of more than €30 billion within the next three to five years.

You can now read our whole report on the state of the Belgian impact investing sector.

The full report is available to download here

The executive summary will be available to download here: soon

Sevan Holemans, Managing director of Solifin