Day off to Reflect

Every year on Feb. 9th, my birthday, I take a day off to reflect on the past year and the coming year and just chill.  I will be doing that tomorrow. Thanks to those who have already sent me birthday wishes. 2016 will be a year of great transition. Looking forward to each moment.

If you want to do something special for my birthday, give a donation to TBLI Foundation

I hope you enjoy this speech I recently gave in Stockholm. My dear friend Karl-Henrik (Kalle) Robert of The Natural Step organised the StepWise Conference-The Future of Leadership is Now. It was particularly special because King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden was in attendance. What was even more surprising is that he stayed to hear my talk, and enjoyed it. Thank you Kalle for the kind invitation and wonderful experience.

 

New Year. New Beginnings

Best wishes for New Year. Let’s keep the momentum in ESG and Impact Investing going. I am very optimistic of significant breakthroughs on many fronts, which will ultimately lead to more money flows.

Singapore Bankers Association announced a major leap forward this past year with the guidelines on Responsible Financing. In addition, SGX (Singapore Exchange) announced plans to increase the transparency of governance with sustainability reporting on a “comply or explain” basis”. These initiatives are important and we applaud these actions, as well as all the social entrepreneurs showing that one can achieve a financial return as well as a social and environmental added value.

Impact Investors Meeting

BiD Network’s Women in Business competition

On january 14 the finalists will take part in ‘Bridge the Gap’ and investor meetings will also be organised.

Yellow Star Food Products Ltd (Uganda)

Yellow Star was founded in 1997 and registered in 2014, and produces nutritive cassava flour, soya bean flour for children and adults, soya paste and ground nuts. The company sources all its inputs from contracted women and farmer groups from the North of Uganda. Women are supported and trained in various ways and cooperatives are founded and made bankable. Here is a video to get an impression of Florence Okoth, the founder of Yellow Star

Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) (Rwanda)

SHE is a social for-profit entity in Rwanda that produces affordable menstrual pads while at the same time providing health education and advocacy for girls and women. Currently 18% of the women and girls in Rwanda miss out on over 50 days of school or work due to a lack of menstrual pads. SHE uses a US patented production process to transform fibres from banana trees into the “fluff” needed for menstrual pads. From sourcing banana fibers, to factory employment and distribution of the pads mainly women are involved. The price of a pack of 10 pads is Rwf 500, Rwf 100 cheaper that the cheapest benchmark and half the price of imported pads.They are developing a new production line together with Johnson & Johnson, with which they have a partnership agreement. To meet the demand, an investment is necessary to purchase more machines to create an extra 150 pads per day per machine. Please have a look at this video to get an impression of SHE.

Impact Entrepreneur

Check out this inspiring Israeli company addressing the waste and energy problem

New Year Paradigm Shift and TBLI Super Heroes

Well we made it. 2015 is nearly over and a climate deal was signed in December. Very historic and potentially the paradigm shift that we all wanted. It was not the deal that many fought so hard to achieve, but it is a major signal to the financial sector and thus the economy. Carbon will be a cost. Those in the carbon intensive industry will face major challenges to their business models, that they might not be able to handle. Those involved in zero to low carbon industries should find a great deal of interest for investment. At least long term.

What I missed most in Paris on the podium is all the faces of all the thousands of carbon warriors, or as my wife pronounces “carbon worriers” from the non-profit, for profit and not for loss who worked for years to make this agreement a reality. There were many photo ops with billionaires, and vips, during the Paris talks,  who had not been investing their money into low carbon industries, but they had a big announcement so the cameras were working overtime. To all those thousands and tens of thousands who were not part of the photo op and should have been, I salute your determination, to push this through.  You all know who you are, as I do. Thank you.

For the cynics who want to focus on what was not achieved please read this editorial, Grand promises of Paris climate deal undermined by squalid retrenchments in the Guardian by George Monbiot

TBLI Super Heroes

I regularly write about people who I felt were TBLI Heros because they worked in creating an economy based upon well being. Two TBLI Heroes who should be classified as TBLI Super Heroes are Iris Bune and Stephanie Gerteiser. There is no one who has worked harder, with fewer resources, and achieved more than Iris and Stephanie. In case you don’t know them, Iris and Stephanie both work at TBLI. Iris has been head of operations  and Stephanie has been  conference curator.

If you have ever tried to organise an international conference you know how challenging that can be. Now try to organise an international conference in Chicago, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Singapore and Zurich in 12 months, when you are only two people working part time. Through it all Iris and Stephanie maintain a great sense of humour and passion for the mission.

Iris and Stephanie don’t get much attention or praise, other than from me, but they make TBLI Conference seem effortless and running like a Swiss Watch. When I go and make my opening remarks and everything is running perfectly, people look at me in awe. They should be admiring  Iris and Stephanie. Thank you very much for making my job seem so easy and being such brilliant, authentic human beings. We all benefit from your tireless commitment. Enjoy your holidays. Well deserved.

Holiday Thoughts post Paris

“ The gross national product includes air pollution and advertising for cigarettes, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and, jails for the people who break them. It grows with the production of napalm and missiles and nuclear warheads…And if the gross national product includes all this, there is much that it does not comprehend. It does not allow for the health of our families, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not account for the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our love for each other, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.

It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning. The gross national product measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile, and itcan tell us everything about us– except whether we are a good people. . . .“

Robert F. Kennedy, May 1968, Chicago

Maybe Paris Climate Agreement will be the start of measuring what matters most. I hope so.

For all of you I wish you a peaceful holiday, and an exciting 2016. Let us hope that all of our dreams come true. Maybe even some nightmares (President Trump?)

 

Women Sherpas

Did you ever notice how financial institutions start their path towards ESG and Impact Integration through female leadership. I meet so many women who’s job is to get ESG and Impact Investing (Sustainability) anchored within a bank, insurance company, family office, pension fund, or asset managers. Often those women are understaffed, over stretched, insufficiently funded, always a small office hidden somewhere, etc. However, they all seem to rise up to the task. They are the sherpas who are given a load and as they are able to schlep things up the hill, more load is added. No extra mule, just more baggage for the heavy journey.

I thought that there is a cultural bias. It is only Americans, Europeans, or Asians from certain countries who give mission impossible projects to  their female colleagues. WRONG! Nearly every single woman that I spoke to about their work all complained that they are not given the resources to do the job. As they persevere in spite of the load, more is added. I told them, management sees you can carry the load so they increase the load. “Do more with the same or less.” “You can manage. You have four kids. You are superwoman” “Oh and by the way, in spite of all your efforts we still are not convinced about ESG and Impact.” I spoke to women at international private banks in USA, Europe, major family offices  (single and multi family), insurance companies, commercial and retail banks. The same story repeats itself.

The “sherpas” are all frustrated, but determined to make sustainable investing a reality, within their organization. I told them by being the uber sherpa, you only get more challenges, work and baggage. You don’t get more sherpas. It is a vicious circle. The worse part is that historically, when the women finally breakthrough or breakdown, depending upon how you see it, a male takes over and cuts the ribbon. My advice is do less. Stop with the super woman feats of strength. Make it clear that the rubber band is stretched to its limits. The momentum of the competitors and self -interest realisation will get you more sherpas, ultimately.

TBLI Hero of the Month.

The TBLI hero of the month goes to all women sherpas who are creating a values based economy by anchoring sustainability within the financial system, in spite of all the challenges. Karianne, Eleonore, Julie, Antje,  Bettina, Rhea, Soulange, Audrey, Thien, and hundreds more. I embrace you all.

Please replace man for woman if more appropriate.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Theodore Roosevelt THE (WO)MAN IN THE ARENA
Excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic”, delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910

TBLI CONFERENCE

TBLI EUROPE 2015 in Zurich was a great inspiration to us all. Thank you to all of our attendees, sponsors, speakers, and staff. You made the event extremely fulfilling. Presentations and Photos will be placed on our website shortly.

TBLI Foundation:

I want to thank Enclude and Laurie Spengler for supporting TBLI Foundation to help further our educational outreach by becoming a TBLI FRIEND. Thank you.

Media

Take a look at this Unep Report Aligning the Financial System with Sustainable Development 

Very good Planet Money podcasts on refugees. Listen to it.  When the Boats Arrive.

Conference