Are you Cynical, Negative, Positive, Critical of just a pain in the ass?

I was giving a talk at the Impact  Summit Zug, recently. The talk went exceptionally well and I got fantastic feedback. One friend, who recently left a major global bank to follow his heart, however, came up to me and said “you should be less cynical”. I thought about that and asked myself (love talking to myself as there are no interruptions) “was I cynical, or critical or negative, or positive or realistic, or just a pain in the ass”. The Dutch word for people like that is “lastig”.

After long reflection, I discovered that how people viewed me was a reflection as to where they were, with acceptance of Impact Investing. If they were authentic and truly committed to ESG and Impact Investing (Sustainable Finance), they found me honest and critical, but realistic and inspiring. If they were struggling with making the transition from “finance first” to “impact first”, then I appeared cynical or negative. Finally, the finance first, second and last group felt I was just a “pain in the ass who didn’t understand finance”.

I think I am all of the above, except I do understand finance. The question is what works in changing attitudes? Telling people that their children are ugly is not a way of winning friends. Agreed. What is the most effective way of convincing institutional investors that Impact Investing offers a wiser and more effective risk/reward by looking at all risks (social, environmental, governance and financial). Isn’t investing that benefits the investor, society and nature in the interests of all. Ultimately Impact is in everyone’s interests. The key is getting that message through.  Until I find that magic brain triggering pill to transform the financial sector, immediately, to a more inclusive and value(s) based, I will remain being who I am.  Whoever that is?

“Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.”

George Carlin

See you at TBLI CONFERENCE NORDIC 2016 Sept. 20-21 at Nasdaq. Watch this Bloomberg Film and discover why TBLI is holding its next event in Sweden.


$7.13 trillion private investments. 2016 Green Transition Scoreboard® report “Ending Externalities: Full-Spectrum Accounting Clarifies Transition Management

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?)


Sustainable Investment has no value

Since the financial crisis, it seems that no one wants to compensate anyone for services provided. TBLI is inundated with requests for introductions to investors, advice on ESG and Impact Investing, requests for management briefings, strategic partners, job openings, etc. It has reached epic proportions and it is not limited to us. Nearly everyone I speak to confirms they experience the same epidemic of requests for free advice or payment for success.

Why does it seem that anything related to sustainability is not valued and should be given away for free. Other traditional advisors (lawyers, accountants, strategy consultants) are compensated. Do people believe that sustainable investment (ESG and Impact) doesn’t offer any value, so doesn’t need to be compensated?  There doesn’t seem to be any difference between asset owners (family offices, HNW, pension funds), asset managers, social entrepreneurs, etc. All ask the same? “Let’s meet to share experiences”. ” Do you have time for coffee so I can pick your brain?” “I would like to talk to you about a great investment opportunity and would like to access your network and knowledge”.

Some of the Strategy Consultants are a bit more subtle by reaching out at a cocktail party or through an introduction. Then the seduction starts with the ultimate goal of sucking power point slides out of your brain to cut and paste later and sell to clients.

Recently I was approached by a large company asking for help meeting Impact Investors for a large water investment in Europe. I said we could help and would know who they should meet and asked for our time and knowledge to be compensated. They said “We don’t do that. We would be willing to compensate should something happen.” I told him “if you have a backache and you go to a massage therapist, do you say, if my back pain doesn’t come back in 6 months I will pay you.” He laughed and got the message. Still wouldn’t compensate but he got the message.

Sustainable Investment advice has value and needs to be compensated, particularly if you want someone to commit their time and energy.

Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.