Impact investment aiming at generating both financial and socioeconomic returns is critical to achieve universal energy access. Off-grid energy access companies have absorbed about US$1.7 billion worldwide in disclosed investments in the period 2010 to 2018. The pace of investment has accelerated in the last few years. At the same time, impact investors have been criticized for investing only in foreign-owned companies and not local entrepreneurs, particularly in Africa.

Impact investors are being criticized for bias, and demands are increasing that they change their patterns of investing. Impact investment managers tend to come from developed countries and prefer to invest within their network. A recent report from Oxfam has argued that impact investors ignore impact criteria and disproportionately invest in companies that can provide financial returns, across all sectors. Critical voices from within the industry (including a Village Capital report) suggest that investors should have greater local engagement, modify their investing criteria, and invest in what entrepreneurs need.