With communities in many parts of the world achieving stronger, legally-recognized, collective rights over natural resources, important questions now arise regarding how communities can overcome perceived barriers to investment and deliver sustainable development. Normative economic theory posits conceptual and practical barriers to investment in commons-based enterprises. This paper considers evidence and draws on lessons from four countries—Guatemala, Mexico, Nepal and Namibia—to better understand the pathways emerging to deliver investment in the commons. We find that investment in community-owned resources is taking place, but that investment readiness develops over time, in stages, and is conditional on the level of assurance stakeholders have that the obligations of each party will bemet. We also find that community rights have fostered investment that recognizes the social character of commons ownership, to deliver environmental and social returns, as well as profits.