AfricaSIF Blog


Global collaboration on sustainable investment advances as leadership of sustainable investment organizations meet in London

April 3, 2012
Sustainable investment membership organizations in major markets today agreed to join forces to create a trailblazing report on the global scope of sustainable and responsible investment. For more than a decade, these regional bodies have produced research reports, generally on a biennial schedule, on the trends in sustainable and responsible investing within their own markets.  The release of this harmonized global “Trends” report, the first ever, is scheduled for December 2012.

“The sustainable investment promoting organizations are raising the global profile of sustainable investment together,” said Graham Sinclair, President of AfricaSIF.org. “We are nudging investors toward advancing a more sustainable and low carbon economy at the regional and country level.”

This is an important step in helping to identify and compare sustainable investment industry developments across geographic boundaries.  Specifically, the report will analyze the prevalence of investment strategies that consider environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) factors in investment analysis and ownership activities.

 

The sustainable investment organizations, at the conclusion of their summit in London last week, also agreed to launch a global website in the last quarter of 2012 and to collaborate more closely on policy issues.

 

The organizations at the meeting included the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF), US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, the European Sustainable Investment Forum (Eurosif), the Canadian Social Investment Organization (SIO), the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA), the Dutch Association of Investors for Sustainable Development (VBDO) and the Association for Sustainable & Responsible Investment in Asia (ASrIA). Additionally, the Africa Sustainable Investment Forum Project (AfricaSIF.org) provided the group with input from the African region.

 

The sustainable investment organizations represent more than 1,000 members including pension funds, asset managers, NGOs, banks, community development organizations, research institutions and consulting firms, impact investors and financial advisors.

 

The global sustainable investment Trends 2012 report will document the types of investors involved, break down the strategies employed and make international market comparisons. It will cover all asset classes, from public equities and fixed income to hedge funds and microfinance.  ESG investment strategies such as screening, integration and engagement will be assessed across jurisdictions.

 

This original research will be a valuable resource to investors and policy makers and will serve as the baseline for future research. Each participating organization will be responsible for collecting data in its home market.

 

The global leadership meeting followed a two day symposium in London organized by UKSIF, US SIF and Eurosif.  The program included panels on shareholder engagement and the economics of sustainable investment research, among other topics.

 

Comments from Summit Participants

 

United States of America

“US SIF is committed to the success of our international collaboration with other sustainable investment organizations,” said Lisa Woll, CEO, US SIF. “We believe our work together strengthens the profile of sustainable and responsible investment globally and adds tremendous

value to US SIF’s work."

 

Canada

“The strength of the sustainable investment industry lies in the diversity of our members in Canada and around the world,” said Eugene Ellmen, Executive Director, SIO. “Our collective activities as sustainable investment forums will give voice to our members by showing this global diversity.”

 

Europe

“The SIFs across the world traditionally are the local foothold of sustainable investors,” said Guiseppe Van Der Helm, President of Eurosif and Executive Director of VBDO. “Sharing our experience in advancing sustainable investment will enhance our global thought leadership”.

 

United Kingdom

“This partnership enables us to draw on international knowledge and expertise to support our members to deliver leading edge sustainable investment services.” said Penny Shepherd MBE, UKSIF Chief Executive. “UKSIF was delighted to host this second annual summit which built on the success of last year’s inaugural gathering in New York City.”

 

Australasia

"The enduring strength of sustainable investment organizations is that we are driven by what's needed on the ground in our regions and guided by the deep expertise of our members." said Louise O'Halloran, Executive Director, Responsible Investment Association Australasia. "Bringing that expertise together as a global force is an incredibly powerful benefit for our community of members around the world."

 

ABOUT the sustainable investment membership organizations

 

US SIF www.ussif.org (United States of America)

US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment is the U.S. national nonprofit membership association for professionals, firms and organizations dedicated to advancing the practice and growth of sustainable and responsible investing (SRI). Critical to responsible investment practice is the consideration of environmental, social and corporate governance criteria in addition to standard financial analysis.

 

UKSIF www.uksif.org (United Kingdom)

The UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF) supports the UK finance sector to be a global leader in advancing sustainable development through financial services. We promote and support responsible investment and other forms of finance that advance sustainable economic development, enhance quality of life and safeguard the environment. Founded in 1991, UKSIF has over 260 members including pension funds, asset managers, research providers, financial advisers, banks and non-governmental organizations. For more information, visit www.uksif.org.

 

EuroSIF www.eurosif.org (Europe)

Eurosif (the European Sustainable Investment Forum) is a pan-European group whose mission is to Address Sustainability through Financial Markets. Current member affiliates of Eurosif include pension funds, financial service providers, academic institutes, research associations and NGO's. The association is a not-for-profit entity that represents assets totaling over €1 trillion through its affiliate membership.

 

ASRIA www.asria.org (Asia)

The Association for Sustainable & Responsible Investment in Asia (ASrIA) is a not for profit, membership association dedicated to promoting corporate responsibility and sustainable investment practice in the Asia Pacific region. ASrIA's members include investment institutions managing over US$4 trillion in assets, however membership is open to any organization which has an interest in sustainable investment. ASrIA's goal is to build market capacity for SRI. It provides insightful, up to date and accessible information on the development of SRI in Asia and globally.  It has also become the platform for different sectors within the community to exchange information and perspectives on SRI, and to take practice forward.

 

VBDO www.vdbo.nl (The Netherlands)

The Dutch Association of Investors for Sustainable Development (VBDO) was launched in 1995. The VBDO aims at generating a more sustainable capital market by raising awareness both with multinational corporations and investors about the contributions they can make towards a sustainable capital market. The VBDO also formulates strong opinions on different topics related to sustainability. VBDO regularly carries out research and visits Annual General Meetings of stock listed companies and engages in an active dialogue with banks, insurance companies, media and stock listed companies. As such VBDO is the only association in the Netherlands representing institutional as well as individual sustainable investors.

 

Social Investment Organization (SIO) www.socialinvestment.ca (Canada)

The Social Investment Organization (SIO) is a national membership-based organization that includes financial institutions, investment firms, financial advisors, and various organizations and individuals interested in socially responsible investment. The SIO's mandate is to promote the practice of socially responsible investment (SRI) in Canada. SRI is the integration of environmental, social and governance factors in the selection and management of investments.

 

Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA) www.responsibleinvestment.org (Australasia)

The Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA) was established in 2000 and is the industry peak body for organizations and professionals who take environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into account in their investment decisions. RIAA covers Australia and New Zealand and our members include superannuation funds, asset consultants, fund managers, financial advisers, dealer groups, insurance companies and many other participants in the investment chain. In addition to working at a local level, RIAA collaborates with its sister organizations in the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, Africa, Canada and the United States.

 

In addition, for more information on the Africa Sustainable Investment Forum project, visit www.AfricaSIF.org.
AfricaSIF.org is an independent, pan-African not-for-profit network, knowledgebase and advocate promoting sustainable development across the continent launched in June 2010. The AfricaSIF.org Project is building a network of institutions and individuals promoting sustainable investment in Africa by investors in public, private and philanthropy sectors across asset classes, countries and stakeholders from our platform @ africasif.org.

    Email: africasif@gmail.com
    TWR: @africasif
    URL: http://www.africasif.org
    FB: http://www.facebook.com/africasif10
    LI: http://www.linkedin.com/company/africasif
    YT: http://www.youtube.com/africasif


 

Investing for the future: Goldman Sachs Asset Management (“GSAM”) on the importance of environmental, social and governance evaluation

March 2, 2012

By Jim O’Neill and Dolores Bamford

Within the investment community, environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) evaluation has shifted from the margin to the mainstream.  Below, Jim O’Neill and Dolores Bamford address economic growth and opportunities in South Africa as well as the integration of ESG evaluation into the investment process.

 

Africa’s Growth Conditions by Jim O’Neill

More and more investors are increasingly focused on the opportunities in Africa. In the past few years, foreign companies have already significantly raised their presence on the African continent. According to Jim O’Neill, South Africa is likely to keep its status as the richest economy out of the African 11[1] in terms of incomes per capita through 2050. O’Neill expects that this group of African countries could deliver significant growth and higher incomes over the next several decades. The rise of Africa’s middle class is already slowly changing consumption and production patterns. This process is set to accelerate in the years to come. But for this 2050 scenario to materialise, improving growth conditions remains critical. Transparency and an environment conducive to business are what African leaders should be concentrating on. 

 

Jim O'Neill said: "I believe that some of the world's leading emerging markets - those that are at least 1% of global GDP - should be redefined as "Growth" markets.  Growth and Emerging markets have started to feature more in investors' portfolios and given the growth rates in many of these economies, I expect this trend is likely to continue.  With regards to Africa, in the past few years, foreign companies have raised their presence on the continent.  With the economic opportunities and increasing investment in Africa, there is rising investor interest in the region.  The concept of sustainable investing could also feature more prominently in African investment opportunities."

 

Case for sustainability: access tomorrow’s leaders today by Dolores Bamford

When evaluating companies, management’s proactive focus on sustainability can be an indication of a strong corporate strategy and business model. An increasing body of industry research demonstrates that introducing ESG criteria into the stock selection process can increase the probability of outperformance over the longer term. Assessing ESG issues provides portfolio managers with a unique view of a company’s operations and management quality. Researching ESG factors is an important part of evaluating company risks and that ignoring these factors in investment analysis could be a detriment to performance.

 

All three categories of ESG – environmental, social, and governance – are important factors to consider within the investment process. Environmental considerations are particularly important in the analysis of sectors such as Energy and Utilities, and human rights and social issues are critical to businesses with a global footprint. We believe that strong governance is as important and is an indication of shareholder orientation. In particular, factors such as board composition, management incentive compensation and overall accountability to stakeholders all permeate the culture and impact the long-term performance of a business.

We see investors take a range of approaches to ESG implementation, depending on their resources, values & beliefs, ESG policy, and investment objectives.

GSAM’s robust global research and our Firm’s commitment to corporate citizenship and environmental stewardship

 

Within our Fundamental Equity business we have regional investment teams across the globe who are responsible for investment research. The investment teams in both developed and emerging markets include ESG specialists that understand local business practices and meet with company management teams in order to help shape market-specific ESG analysis. These meetings with company management teams are also an opportunity to collect data on those companies where disclosure may not be strong.

Finally, ESG integration is consistent with GSAM’s quality approach to investing and focus on risk management, as well as Goldman Sachs’ commitment to corporate citizenship and environmental stewardship at a firmwide level. The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.  has extensive reporting on these initiatives. A copy of our Environmental, Social and Governance report can be found via the following link: http://www2.goldmansachs.com/s/esg/HTML1/default.htm

Compliance code: 60657.OTHER.MED.OTU .

See also http://www.goldmansachs.com/gsam/worldwide/insights/jim-oneill/viewpoints/index.html

[1] African 11 include Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

 

Watching Sustainable Emerging Markets, London 24-25 May 2011

May 25, 2011
Its a sunny day in London for day 2 of the Sustainable Emerging Markets conference #sustainable2011 being held at the Renaissance Hotel in Holborn. All the whos who of the Responsible Investing (RI) world is here.

Each guru and aspiring guru is talking, listening and sharing. But where is arguing? Arguing, although a word which usually carries negative connotation, can in actuality often be a very positive insight provider. I am personally new to this field of SRI, RI, or ESG investments.

I would be lying if I said the highly accredited and knowlegeable speakers and delegates present today have not broadened my level of understanding of this ever evolving and growing sphere. However, the missing link is arguing. In other words, the other side of the coin, the guys that dont agree with the business case behind ESG investing, the skeptics that will shoot it down.

The truth is, we have much to learn from these guys as their insight is invaluable to our crusade for a better world. Hopefully, same place and time next year, we will have them sitting at our table, arguing their case, as we win them over with some new found evidence. More ideas for our AfricaSIF Knowledgebase education day 31 August and IMN Africa Cup of Investment Management in Cape Town 1 - 2 September 2011.

NH
VP North Africa


Sustainable Emerging Markets

Tuesday, May 24 to Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Renaissance London Chancery Court Hotel, London, England

Matt Christensen
Executive Director
European Sustainable Investment Forum

Anthony Miller
Economic Affairs Officer
Investment and Enterprise Division
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

Euan Marshall
Global Product Leader, Sustainable Investment
IFC

Andrew Howard
Executive Director, Global Investment Research
Goldman Sachs – GS Sustain

Thomas Motsch
Senior Fund Manager SRI
Erste Asset Management

Danyelle Guyatt
Responsible Investment
Mercer

Alka Banerjee
Vice-President Global Equities
S & P Indices

Joaquim De Lima
Global Head of Quantitative Research for Equities
HSBC

Alvar Roosimaa
CIO
Limestone Investment Management

Dr Geoffrey Williams
CEO
OWW Consulting

Stephen Tong
Head of Emerging Markets Equity Portfolio
Management
Vontobel Asset Management, Zurich

Falko Paetzold
Senior Sustainability Analyst
Vontobel Asset Management, Zurich

Lucy Carmody
Executive Director
Responsible Research, Singapore

Helena Viñes Fiestas
Policy Advisor
OXFAM

Naheeda Rashid
Regional Head of Africa, India & Middle East
Hermes Equity Ownership Services

Geoffrey Mazullo
Principal - Emerging Markets ESG
Adjunct Professor, School of Amerikan Law (Poland)

Rein Ojavere
Head of Research
Limestone Investment Management

Martin Pitura
Managing Director
GES Investment Services (Poland)

Peder Michael Pruzan-Jorgensen
Managing Director, Europe, Middle East and Africa
BSR

Cyrille Arnould
Head of GEEREF
European Investment Bank

Owen Thorne
Investment Officer
The Merseyside Pension Fund

Frank Curtiss
Head of Corporate Governance
Railpen Investments

Stephan Olajide-Huesler
Senior Investment Director
PGGM

Stephen Hine
Head of Responsible Investment Development
EIRIS

Valeria Piani
Head of Investor Engagements
Principles for Responsible Investment

Faryda Lindeman
Responsible Investment Offi cer
Mn Services

Lauren Compere
Director of Shareholder Advocacy
Boston Common Asset Management



 

AfricaSIF Launch Event 2 in Cape Town a Success!

September 3, 2010
Building on the initial roadshow launch event in Johannesburg few weeks ago, AfricaSIF's second launch event was a success according to its attendees.

As Hylton Brown, one of AfricaSIF's Steering Committee members, explained: "The AfricaSIF event held last night at ASISA was a massive success, not only in attracting like-minded individuals, but in delivering a strong message that it’s up to us as Africans to bring about change, and that we can do it in a sustainable manner. What also came through was the number of top investment professionals who are behind this vision. It was great to see a diverse range of speakers, highlighting different aspects, but delivering the same message that AfricaSIF is something that matters." 

Kerry K. Sinclair, AfricaSIF VP of Marketing also explained that: "Our launch last night, second in our launch roadshow, was a great success. With an exceptional turnout of over 75 sustainability practioners from an impressive cross section of industries, we successful provided an understanding of AfricaSIF and its importance to Cape Town and the continent. From the comments last night, I would say that although sustainable investment is defined differently by all involved, it is truly a passion of everyone. That places AfricaSIF in the unique place to ignite this passion into a network that changes how investment is done in Africa to help steer the future of the continent in a positive direction."

Beyond the 7 great speaker and the important number of attendees, these additional quotes confirm the positive momentum AfricaSIF is building upon:

“For sustainable economic development in Africa it is imperative that there are conscious efforts to adopt investment strategies that integrate corporate profitability with social values and environmental concerns. It is commendable that AfricaSIF promotes such investment in Africa”, Meshach Aziakpono the Professor of Development Finance at University of Stellenbosch Business School

 

Africa is a continent filled with potential.  The key to releasing this potential is sustainable investment.  AfricaSIF is well placed to drive awareness and stimulate active discussion with the key stakeholders in unlocking this potential.” Sunette Mulder, Senior Policy Advisor, ASISA, Chairperson of CFA Institute GIPS Standing Committee South Africa and Deputy Chairperson of Code for Responsible Investing South Africa [CRISA]"

 

Andrew C. Canter, Chief Investment Officer of Futuregrowth Asset Management was frank about the realities of sustainable investment: “capital seeks economic returns:  While we hope, and expect, that many investors will seek positive developmental impact with their funds, it remains true that private capital investors “keep score” in economic, money terms...We must build investment processes that can earn sustainable, positive economic returns on client funds ... Underperformance – or outright losses – by any fund manager will undermine the diligent efforts of the entire sustainable investment industry ... We must be honest, transparent and forthright about the likely risks and returns of the investment products we create and promote.”  Canter also spoke about the AfricaSIF vision for promoting sustainable investment in Africa, across institutions and individuals: “Let us find common cause with individuals, let us invest in our own money in our best RI ideas, and let this movement spread organically upward.  Let us sell what we would buy.


Finally, as explained by Kerry K. Sinclair, AfricaSIF VP of Marketing: “AfricaSIF wishes to thank sponsors and supporters at Old Mutual Investment Group, the JSE SRI Index, RMB Asset Management, Futuregrowth Asset Management, ASISA, SinCo and Prowess Investment Management for sponsoring the launch events.”
 
Please keep posted with upcoming AfricaSIF events at http://www.africasif.org/events.php.

Please feel free to add your own comments below.

- RY

 

AfricaSIF Launch Roadshow 2010 Event 2: Cape Town 3 September 2010

September 3, 2010

CAPE LAUNCH OF PAN-AFRICAN SUSTAINABLE INVESTMENT NETWORK 

 

The Africa Sustainable Investment Forum (AfricaSIF) Launch Roadshow 2010 made its second stop, launching in Cape Town on Thursday. Investment industry body, Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (ASISA), hosted the event at their headquarters in Newlands.

  

AfricaSIF is an independent pan-African not-for-profit network, knowledgebase and advocate promoting sustainable investment across the continent.  Association for Savings & Investment SA hosted the launch and was chosen as a meeting place that embodies the AfricaSIF ethos, offering a multi-stakeholder forum for investment practitioners in Africa.

 

In his welcoming address, AfricaSIF co-founder Graham Sinclair said that AfricaSIF is a strategic new step in facilitating investment in Africa that purposefully integrates environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors: “Africa needs capital, but it does not benefit from capital that does not develop our continent sustainably.”

 

“The AfricaSIF network aims to increase the quantity and quality of sustainable investment in Africa by attracting investment in the public, private and philanthropy sectors across asset classes, countries and stakeholders,” said Sinclair.

 

Speakers at the launch covered a range of experience on the ideas and actions behind sustainable investment in Africa.  Speakers at the launch included Sunette Mulder of ASISA, Meshach Aziakpono the Professor of Development Finance at University of Stellenbosch Business School, Futuregrowth Asset Management’s CIO Andrew Canter, Sibusiso Mabuza of RMB Asset Management, Kelebogile Moloko of Prowess Investment Managers + AfricaSIF co-founder, Senzo Hlangu of Portfolio Manager Long-Term Equity at Old Mutual Investment Group SA, Ralph Hamman the Professor and Research Director at UCT Graduate School of Business, and hosted by Graham Sinclair, AfricaSIF co-Founder and Principal at SinCo, the sustainable investment architecture firm.

 

“We have an effective market place, but need to go up one more notch to be the best. We need more forums to increase awareness - and sometimes need levers,” said Leon Campher, CEO of ASISA.

 

AfricaSIF seeks to change investment in Africa one investment at a time, asking questions like “what impact does sustainable investment have?” Impact is a hot talking point even as the South African government faces questions where the forecasted ZAR 1 billion in new taxes from the launch on 1 September in South Africa of a carbon tax on new vehicle sales will be deployed. Others have targeted heavy polluting firms like SASOL and question whether they are being properly valued for long-term risks.

 

“Given Africa’s new identity as a land of possibility, the marketplace cannot afford to overlook the importance of  incorporating sustainability issues in the quest for sustainable economic and social transformation,” said Kelebogile Moloko, CIO at Prowess Investment Management and co-founder of AfricaSIF. “AfricaSIF is well-positioned to be one of the strong institutional supports that ushers in Africa next evolution.”

 

“The tragedy of African resource curse can only be reversed through sustainable investment – investment that integrates corporate profitability with social values and environmental concerns”, said Meshach Aziakpono the Professor of Development Finance at University of Stellenbosch Business School. “It is commendable that AfricaSIF promotes such investment in Africa”

 

Sinclair adds that in 2009 approximately USD 6.9 trillion including USD 300 billion in emerging markets was invested integrating ESG factors, but wonders how much of this is in Africa. AfricaSIF will help keep score. Forthcoming studies by the IFC will shed some light, as will AfricaSIF’s bi-annual Africa Sustainable Investment Marketplace study to be released in December 2010. Private equity investors alone in the last 10 years private equity firms headquartered in Africa have raised over USD 10 billion in aggregate capital according to SinCo analysis.

 

Globally, the importance of new sustainable investment strategies is evidenced by the 245 institutional investors with over USD 64 trillion that support the Carbon Disclosure Project globally. Meanwhile, earlier this week on 1 September 2010 the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) announced registration of over 800 signatories managing more than USD 20 trillion. The PRI has more than 30 signatories in Africa from Kenya, Nigeria, Mauritius, and including the GEPF and PIC in South Africa.

 

“Africa may be characterized by three paradoxes: rich in resources, but poor in socio-economic development; very little greenhouse gas emissions, but likely massive impact of climate change; and dire need for investment, but too much of this is currently motivated either by short-term, adventurous returns or geopolitical resource wars. AfricaSIF is well placed to help tip the scales,” Ralph Hamman the Professor and Research Director at UCT Graduate School of Business.

 

AfricaSIF aims to attract new capital in new ways to Africa and help to grow sustainable investment on the continent by taking a long-term interest in Africa’s economic development.  

 

Investment practitioners have been supportive of the initiative locally and internationally: AfricaSIF has fielded membership enquiries from Australia, Europe, Middle East and the USA. All of the Steering Committee members offer their time pro-bono to this important new initiative.

 

Andrew Canter added that in Africa “industry members must take a strong, moral stand against corruption in government and, most personally, within our own industry. There is little moral ground to promote “Sustainable Investing” when our own industry is “playing ball” with corrupt practices.”

 

Earlier, Wanjiru Kirima, chairperson of the Principal Officers’ Association and AfricaSIF co-founder spoke of AfricaSIF’s role: "Over 400 members of Principal Officers Association are asset owners that are increasingly driving alignment of their fund managers and service providers toward the sustainable investment theme. AfricaSIF is a new element of the investment ecosystem that will play a vital catalytic role across Africa in accelerating this process."

 

The ASISA launch follows on the first launch event which was held at the JSE in Johannesburg on 9 June, 2010. The AfricaSIF Launch Roadshow moves on to events scheduled in 2010 for Lagos, Nairobi, Cairo/Tunis, Geneva, London, Paris, New York and Boston. The first annual AfricaSIF conference, ESGAfrica, is being designed and produced in partnership with global ESG specialist journal Responsible Investor and other partners, and scheduled for 1-2 December 2010.  

 

Distributed on behalf of AfricaSIF Project by: 

Percheron Public Relations & Marketing


 

Promoting Sustainable Investment in Africa

September 2, 2010
GUEST BLOGGER: Andrew C. Canter, Chief Investment Officer, Futuregrowth Asset management


“Sustainability” is a big, far reaching word: So one has to start at
the top, and drill down.

Capital, whether seeking economic and/or social gains is attracted to
factors that are inherently good for the overall economy.  First, a
sustainable economy must have an educated, productive and
entrepreneurial workforce – from the CEO to shop floor.  Sadly, South
Africa’s (and, it seems, Africa’s) education system appears to have a
structural inability to adapt, thus perpetuating underemployment.
Second, but equally vital, are clarity of Property Rights – including
a sound constitutional framework, the rule-of-law and stable
regulatory regimes.   Third, nations need to demonstrate a low
tolerance for corruption in all spheres.  Aside from those factors,
capital seeks economic returns:  While we hope, and expect, that many
investors will seek positive developmental impact with their funds, it
remains true that private capital investors “keep score” in economic,
money terms.

So how can the asset management industry promote sustainable
investment in Africa?

At the highest level, we should be active in promoting the principles
required for a modern economy – continually reasserting and defending
fundamental issues of property rights, basic freedoms and
transparency.  When other’s property rights are challenged we must
defend them as if they were our own.  A good example is the
ill-informed movement for “prescription”  of pension fund investments
– which represents a clear challenge to property rights and freedom of
choice.  When press freedoms are challenged by governments we must
speak out to defend a free and independent press.    In a continent
noted for its venality, industry members must take a strong, moral
stand against corruption in government and, most personally, within
our own industry:  Whether in the form of inappropriate “gift giving”
or acceding to client “requests”.   It is happening today, and there
is little moral ground to promote “Sustainable Investing” when our own
industry is “playing ball” with corrupt practices.

More pragmatically:

   * We must build investment processes that can earn sustainable,
positive economic returns on client funds:  Underperformance – or
outright losses – by any fund manager will undermine the diligent
efforts of the entire sustainable investment industry.
   * We must find a common lexicon: The world of Sustainable
Investing is littered with extant and extinct terminology and
nomenclature.  Experience shows that virtually every presentation on
Responsible Investing, by any party at any time, starts with a set of
“definitions”:  It must be observed that “bond” presentations don’t
start with definitions of “bonds”, and “equity” presentations don’t
start with definitions of “equity”.  In failing to have an agreed
framework of language we confuse investors and the market and,
frankly, are our own worst enemies.
   * We must be honest, transparent and forthright about the likely
risks and returns of the investment products we create and promote.
Justice Albie Sachs said that “a constitutional state repudiates
lying, totally.  Openness and integrity are not merely the virtues of
honest individuals, they are the core elements of the trust that
should bind citizens and government together in a single polity”.
While we are entitled to expect ethics and honesty from governments,
and we must live up to our own highest expectations.
   * There needs to be a frank admission that sustainable investing
is rich with judgment and personal biases about screening tools.  We
need to allow the ultimate investors exercise discretion, as much as
they may wish, about what “sustainable” or “social” investing means to
them.
   * Lastly, in developed markets, the Responsible Investing movement
began with individuals who sought to “think globally, act locally”…
and that movement spread upward (over decades) to institutional funds.
 In South Africa (and I’d guess most emerging markets) the RI movement
is seeking to establish itself at the institutional level first.  This
strikes me as flawed… a case of “do with others’ money what I wouldn’t
do with my own money”.  Let us find common cause with individuals, let
us invest in our own money in our best RI ideas, and let this movement
spread organically upward.  Let us sell what we would buy.

In summary, it is through our vigilance, voice, principles, diligence
and actions that we can seek to promote Africa’s sustainable
development.

 

Why AfricaSIF Matters (Part 3) - Guest Blogger

August 25, 2010
The 2010 Soccer World Cup has given the world a taste of Africa. The national ‘gees’ and
energy in supporting Bafana Bafana and the other teams has shown that the spirit of Ubuntu
exists strongly in South Africa. The country’s people, economy, its tourist attractions and
meeting of the FIFA deadlines has proven that it is possible for an African country to deliver on
promises.

The African people, their cultures, resources and investment opportunities are the richness of
Africa; yet Africa is robbed, sadly, by avarice. The leaders of African countries have sought to
enrich themselves without thought to their nation and its economy; they have abused power
for self interest and gain. This misleadership has been a cause of Africa’s instability and its
failure to achieve its potential.

That said, there are changing flows occurring within Africa that carry wealth creation and
prosperity in their pull. These flows are due to the struggles for democracy and the need for
African based solutions. There is a new leadership emerging which seeks to pursue national
goals and investment for growth to achieve the potential Africa offers.

This transformation in leadership is expressed by the economic growth rates of 5 percent
and more prior to the financial crisis (the period of 2001 to 2008) which several African states
enjoyed. For example, Uganda had a growth rate of 10 percent in 2005 but this has dropped
to 5.6 percent. It requires infrastructure investment amongst other to help boost its economy.
Further, Rwanda has in the past few years been able to sustain a 10 percent growth rate. It
has begun to establish itself as a knowledge base economy. These two countries speak of
prosperity change in African countries.

Governance, improved education for human capital growth and infrastructure are needed for
renewed strategies and transformation in Africa.

From an investment perspective pertinent and strong research is necessary for business
decisions and the building of relationships in Africa. Investment is required at three levels
government, private sector and at a grassroot or social organisation level to uplift the economy
along the continuum to drive sustainability and empowerment.

There are many opportunities to be found in investing in Africa. If these are acted upon wisely
and with a true heart for Africa’s growth, investments made will see profitable returns.

Charlene v Onselen

 

Why AfricaSIF Matters (Part 2)

August 5, 2010
AfricaSIF has brought together a community of individuals committed to sustainable development on the African continent. Though the team stretches across the globe and brings together professionals with widely diverse backgrounds, each team member understands the urgent necessity for socially responsible investment in Africa and believes that AfricaSIF will be an important catalyst for positive change.  
 
As explained in an earlier post, this week you'll be able to read testimonials on why AfricaSIF matters to some of AfricaSIF's team members and partners:
 
  •  "In order for sustainable investment to be a reality in Africa, transparency, collaboration and knowledge-sharing will be essential: this is what AfricaSIF offers. It is a multi-faceted resource that clearly articulates the value proposition of investment in Africa."Matt Stephenson, MBA Candidate 2011, The Wharton School of Business
  • "AfricaSIF is important because it is playing an integral role in connecting sustainable capital with sustainable investment. Africa's development depends on this type of approach." Hylton Brown, Fundamental Solutions, Cape Town, South Africa
  •  "Sustainability- oriented investing is rapidly making its way to the core of investment thinking in many parts of the world, but has been slow to reach African shores where it can do the most good for people and precious natural resources. Africa's competitiveness may surpass all expectations if we are able to unleash sustainable investing on the continent. AfricaSIF finally brings the information and networks to make it happen." Louise Gardiner
  •  AfricaSIF facilitates the integration of ESG factors in Africa investments ensuring that progressive businesses and ideas are rewarded with investment capital, thus accelerating the pace of development in the region." - Ike Nwagbara, MIFFT 2010, London Business School
  •  "I strongly believe that through its mission to promote the systematic inclusion of environmental, social, and governance dimensions in the investment process; as well as through its Network / Knowledgebase / Advocacy structure, AfricaSIF will positively contribute to our continent's sustainable development." - Roselyne Yao, Research Analyst, JPS Global Investments, San Francisco, CA
Hope you'll join our AfricaSIF community.
 
- BP
 

Why AfricaSIF Matters

August 3, 2010
AfricaSIF has brought together a community of individuals committed to sustainable development on the African continent. Though the team stretches across the globe and brings together professionals with widely diverse backgrounds, each team member understands the urgent necessity for socially responsible investment in Africa and believes that AfricaSIF will be an important catalyst for positive change.  

As shown on the earlier post, this week you'll be able to read some testimonials from team members on why AfricaSIF
matters to them:

  • A think tank of professionals that dedicate their time and skill to advocate sustainable development (capital, infrastructure, education etc.) to meet the continents imperatives by providing thought leadership on ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance) issues.” – Loyiso Mabece, ASISA (Association for Savings & Investment South Africa)
  •  "My past work and academic experience showed me the important role informed investing plays within international development. AfricaSIF creates a space where investors and practitioners can communicate and make responsible investment decisions, which will ultimately lead to more sustainable development." - Cathy Richards, MPA 2010, Monterey Institute of International Studies
  • "AfricaSIF is a builder of Africa showcasing its potential, establishing and projecting its attractive form, through amongst others high quality data, an essential ingredient for sustainability to thrive.” - Mandisa Zungu, OMIGSA, Cape Town, South Africa
  • "Through my previous work experience, I have become passionate about both economic development in Africa and sustainable investing. The AfricaSIF Project merges these interests in a unique way, and I am confident that the project will contribute to increasing both the quantity and quality of investment on the continent for years to come.” – Kelly Knorr, MBA 2010, Haas School at UC-Berkeley 
- BP
 

Responsible investment in Africa ... Impossible dream or achievable reality? Why not just say AfricaSIF mission?

August 3, 2010
You'll find below the personal explanation from Nina Corynne Dongkeng (one of AfricaSIF's interns) on why AfricaSIF matters.

 "This is not a secret! The 21st Century and especially the past three years have dramatically affected the world, and the human condition … leaving each of us face-to-face with our responsibilities, our fears, our devils. Indeed, it seems that the following negative events - global financial crisis, swine flu, and more recently earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and Taiwan, war in Congo…- are desperately trying to rivet the world’s attention on the human disasters. An urgent worldwide “wake- up” call is needed!

In a world mostly ruled by the capitalism, it is good to keep some human breath inside the "money world"... it is good to bring responsible investment all around the world and why not in Africa. Everybody knows that sustainable investment is
truly one of the best ways to reinforce the African strategic position amongst the international community. But for most African countries, it is still seen as luxury instead of being democratized.
 
We need to support AfricaSIF in achieving its noble mission: Provide Africa with responsible investing practices which take into account environmental, social and corporate governance factors. 

Yes! A new day has come for the African economy. By joining the AfricaSIF network and participating in its
events, you gain a ticket into a great financial crusade and the exceptional opportunity to interact with thinkers, dreamers... real leaders!

As the
first official launch event went well last month, the AfricaSIF team is proud to show the world that breaking the barriers is the best way to achieve what was originally supposed to be just an “IMPOSSIBLE DREAM”. Ecological , social, corporate governance behaviors must be taught and demonstrated in order to prove to this and future generations how we can work together to change Africa into a better place, every day. Together, let us share and live with a responsible vision of the investment all around the world and especially in the “overlooked continent”.

In order to fulfill AfricaSIF’s mission, your moral, financial, and technological
support is gladly welcome. Together, we will be able to make a positive impact in society. But mostly, we need your “love support” just the way actors of this organization are putting all their love to make this big undertaking happen.

Africa is moving on, so be ready to catch the AfricaSIF train!

- NCD"
 

About us


AfricaSIF.org team The AfricaSIF.org team are active as investment practitioners today in Africa finding new ways and new capital to invest in ideas and investments that integrate environmental, social and governance factors into investment decisions. From our desks in Nairobi, Johannesburg, Windhoek, Gabarone, Nairobi, Stockholm, New York, Cape Town, London, Geneva, and other centres of African investment, we write about what capital is moving forward sustainable investment. Our stories cover private, public or philanthropy sector and add new pictures from our unique perspective for investors with USD 1 or USD 1 billion!