Impact investments and social entrepreneurship: opportunities and awareness emerging in Japan

On March 1st Daiwa Microfinance Fund, the first Japanese investment trust fund to provide commercial financing for microfinance institutions was launched with the fund size of USD 242mn. The fund will be managed by Developing World Markets (DWM) which launched at the same time the underlying vehicle DWM Microfinance Fund-J.The fund is distributed by Daiwa Securities and managed by Tokyo Marine Asset Management. The minimum subscription is of Yen 1000 or 12 USD.
Daiwa seems to be leading the way amongst the big financial institutions in Japan regarding impact investments they had launched a bond that invests in IFC (which invests in MFIs) and also have distributed the GAVI bonds.
Japan has been lagging in the area of impact investments but during my last visit to Tokyo in mid January I could feel/hear that there is finally a lot more interest, awareness on the topic of social entrepreneurship and impact investment. I was lucky also to coincide with the official launch of the Ashoka Japan office. Bill Drayton was in Tokyo to give interviews and to introduce the Japan representative Kashiwa Maki and the long time Ashoka supporter Nana Watanabe. Ashoka Japan had started to operate last year the Youth Venture program.
I also met with Ichi (Hiroyasu Ichikawa) who I had met last year at SOCAP and Skoll who is doing a great job as a social media consultant in Japan. I also met several players in the financial industry that expressed their interest in making impact investments. Once there is interest…. Japan can move boldly… a lot to look forward to!

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