Insper, São Paulo, Brazil, December 2012
Impact Investing Platform Launch Event
On the 5th of December 2012, the University of St. Gallen Hub Office in São Paulo held the first of a series of conferences about Impact Investing together with Insper and in partnership with the Sustainability Committee of the Swiss-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce.
The University of St. Gallen Hub office in São Paulo defines impact investing as "investment towards ideas that are based on innovative business models and proposed by outstanding entrepreneurs that provide a solution to social and / or environmental problems with a minimal return of the principal invested capital into the project.” This first conference of the event series was themed Impact Investing - What For? and brought together representatives of impact investing funds, family offices, consulting firms, academics and alumni and exchange students of the University of St. Gallen.
- In the opening presentation, titled as the conference, Impact Investing - What for?, Ernst von Kimakowitz introduced some conceptual underpinnings of impact investing. In short, the message is that more profound progress on the challenges we face as a global community is contingent upon tapping into private wealth as one building block to address social and environmental problems; impact investing provides a mechanism for doing so. As stated by Ernst: the approach should be based on business as unusual, giving the entrepreneurial and investor motivation to generate positive impact crucial importance. First and foremost impact investing is about improving the state of the world.
- The investors perspective - the case of Credit Suisse, was presented by Heiko Specking who brought an overview on how the institution understands where impact investing is positioned in relation to traditional Philanthropy and Corporate Social Responsibility, as well as the advisory services available to their customers aiming at defining or reviewing strategies on how to positively contribute to current social and-environmental issues.
- Impact Investing for Education, was the first of the two presented cases. In it, Prof. Sergio Lazzarini, from Insper, shared a proposal based on the Social Impact Bond Model, introducing the cases of ISMART (Social Institute to Motivate, Support and Recognize Talents) and Instituto Embraer. The main idea behind these projects is to tackle educational issues in Brazil, by providing a consortium formed by donors, investors, private schools and an evaluation center.
- A business case of Biomass in Brazil, was the second case presented and aimed at showing initiatives and projects which already bring a positive environmental impact by utilizing agricultural waste as a source of renewable energy. The case was introduced by Ernesto Moeri, a Swiss-Brazilian entrepreneur from Ecogeo, and a reference when it comes to environmental businesses and alternative energy in Brazil.
- In the sequence, Angelica Rotondaro and Fabian Oppenheimer, from the University of St. Gallen Hub office, introduced and launched the Impact Investing Research Platform. In it, students and researchers play a central role by developing case studies, while at the same time writing their theses. The insights and gained knowledge will feed into the platform to build a knowledge center and help to support future projects. There are four impact investing topics the platform is focused on: sustainable agriculture; renewable energy; social housing and education. The platform operates through the development of projects; conducting research; the organization of public conferences; training modules; and publications.
- In Innovative Models for Traditional Businesses, Peter Probst, a University of St. Gallen Alumnus, brought up insights of how 'old' problems, like the high demand for housing, in Brazil, could and should be approached by impact investors. He showed some examples of low-cost construction technologies that have high productivity and scalability which could be developed and implemented through the creation of a fund for BOP-Housing.
- The last and closing presentation was held by Peter Sester, about the Regulatory Aspects in Impact Investing. His remarks included that regulation shall not be seen exclusively as a restriction, but also as a facilitator. While restrictive regulations can contain requirements for admissions, facilitative restriction can contribute to trust building or the comparability of products. Peter Sester also mentioned the role of tax reduction as a compensation for the below market rate returns in impact investing.
The event closed with Q&A session where a short but lively discussion took place followed by some time for networking and one-on-one talks.
You can find more information on the partnering organizations under the following links: