It is estimated that the region has up to 1 million social enterprises tackling social and environmental problems, according to a recent study[1, 2]. [SL1] Yet, most of them continue to be plagued by the “missing middle” financing gap. 50% of ASEAN SGBs are either unserved or underserved in terms of access to finance. Business expansion is exceptionally challenging due to a combination of factors, including lack of affordable financing and non-financial services, limited access to information and technology, and challenges sourcing right-fit human resources. Women entrepreneurs face additional challenges due to factors such as history, culture, and widespread unconscious bias.
Impact investment has been growing in the region to bridge this gap. From 2007 to 2017, the region received a total value of USD 12.2 billion in impact investing deals from both private impact investors (USD 904 million and 225 deals), and DFIs (USD 11.3 billion and 289 deals). Nonetheless, lack of an investable pipeline, given the nascent stage of social entrepreneurship remains a key hurdle for impact investors to deploy capital. Building a strong pipeline contributes directly to successful capital mobilization to bridge financing gaps of SGBs in the region.