When billions meet trillions: impact investing and shadow banking in Pakistan

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This article argues that impact investing is a means to promote shadow banking. This is reflected in the rise of impact investing in Pakistan, particularly its predilection for inclusive finance. Two contentions are made: one, that impact investors fill the void in enterprise finance created by regulatory constraints on banks, and two, that impact investors accommodate the demand for yield by shepherding global capital into poor countries. These contentions augment the finance and development literature which critiques the financialized development associated with the Finance for Development (FfD) agenda construed by global institutions ostensibly for the Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs, of 2015 and subsequently the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, of 2030. More recently, the narrative of slogans such as Billions to Trillions and the World Bank’s Maximizing Finance for Development agenda, have drawn criticism because they advance shadow banking. The case of Pakistan exemplifies the traction gained by impact investing as an asset class and the related imperative to measure and evaluate outcomes. The resultant focus on base-of-pyramid initiatives such as inclusive finance is thus a corollary of the financialization of development and the shifts and transformations in development initiatives that incorporate private and philanthropic or ‘patient’ capital.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)520-544
Number of pages25
JournalReview of International Political Economy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2019


  • Development
  • financialization
  • impact investing
  • Pakistan

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