Measuring the Impact of Social Banking, Microfinance and Impact Investment

Interview with Olaf Weber -click link

research framework descriptor

Generously funded by:

Export Development Canada

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

Meet the research team:

Professor Olaf Weber

Emmanuel O’Acheta: PhD student

Sean Geobey: PhD student

Kostas Karanasios: LED Masters Student


While the financial return of social banking, microfinance and impact investments is relatively easy to ascertain by traditional methods, the emerging societal return is still hard to measure in a valid, reliable and transparent way. Indicators that show the societal impact of social finance are still rare though there is a growing need for information about the blended - financial and societal -return of these investments. This leads to an increase of administrative costs for social finance projects because no standardized and transparent indicators exist that reflect the social impact of a social finance project in a transparent, systematic and efficient way.

Another uncertainty about social finance is the risk and the behaviour of social finance institutions. Are these institutes healthy from a financial point of view, do they treat their clients in a fair manner as it should be assumed and what are the goals of these companies?

Thus, the project strives to analyse these questions using a transdisciplinary approach. First, the nature of the three clusters of social finance - social banks, microfinance institutions and impact investment organisations - will be investigated by analysing their missions, visions and goals. On this basis indicators to measure the social, environmental and sustainability return of social finance - the so-called blended return or shared value - will be developed. These indicators will be able to show the non-financial impact that can be achieved by investing a given amount of capital. The indicators will be used to measure the impact of a selection of social banks, microfinance and impact investing institutions in an exemplary way.

Research activities and outputs:

  1. Weber, O. (2010). Microfinance. Management Ethics, Summer 2010, 4-6.
  2. Weber, O. (2010). Social Banking: Products and Services. SSRN eLibrary,
  3. Weber, O. (2011). Mission and Profitability of Social Banks. SSRN eLibrary.
  4. Weber, O. (2012). Financing Nonprofits and Social Enterprises: Risks and Opportunities. Paper presented at the Fifth Annual ANSER Conference, Waterloo, ON.
  5. Weber, O. (2012). Social Finance and Impact Investing. SSRN eLibrary. Retrieved from SSRN website:
  6. Weber, O. (2012, August 16). Summer School: The Impact of Sustainable Banking.  Retrieved from
  7. Weber, O. (2012). Sustainable Banking – History and Current Developments. SSRN eLibrary. Retrieved from
  8. Weber, O. (submitted). Responsible Investment in Canada. In N. Beinisch, J. P. Hawley, T. Hebb, A. G. F. Hoepner & D. Wood (Eds.), Handbook of Responsible Investment London, New York: Routledge.
  9. Weber, O., & Duan, Y. (2012). Social Finance and Banking. In J. R. Nofsinger & K. Baker (Eds.), Socially Responsible Finance and Investing (pp. 161-180). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
  10. Weber, O., & Geobey, S. (2012). Social Finance and Nonprofits: the Contribution of Social Finance to the Sustainability of Nonprofit Organizations and Social Enterprises (pp. 44). Waterloo, ON: School for Environment, Enterprise and Development, University of Waterloo.
  11. Weber, O., & Remer, S. (Eds.). (2011). Social Banks and the Future of Sustainable Finance. London: Routledge.
  12. Weber, O., & Remer, S. (2011). Social Banks and the Future of Sustainable Finance. The World Financial Review, May-June, 4-7.
  13. Weber, O. (in press). Impact Measurement in Microfinance: Is the measurement of the Social Return on Investment an Innovation in Microfinance? Journal of Innovation Economics (Cairn).
  14. Workshop in Fall 2012: