Friend leaving and Starting a New Chapter

Today is officially the last day that Iris Bune will be working for TBLI. After 4 years of total commitment, she has decided to move on and pursue her love of Web Development.

When Iris first interviewed, I felt she was perfect for the job of general manager and project manager for TBLI. It didn’t matter what curve ball you through at her, she was always able to bring a sober, simple solution, with a great sense of humour. Iris always looked to streamline, professionalize,  and improve the organisational  elements that go into TBLI   and the TBLI Conference.

She is a gentle giant. Her height and constant interrupting when you talk to her can be intimidating and frustrating, but she is an incredibly sensitive human being. Her passion about social and economic injustice goes further than just clicking like on Facebook. She really cares and most important is totally authentic. There isn’t another person inside. What you see is what you get.

I will miss the persistent interrupting me while talking.  I will miss our weekly update on the latest tv episodes like The Americans,  Breaking Bad, Shameless, American Crime and others. I will miss the laughing faces or lol text messages. I will miss her ability to be professionally critical of a new opportunity, remain totally dispassionate and sober, and  at the same time being able to laugh. Wherever she goes, she will leave a lasting impression. She has clearly left her mark at TBLI. I wish her the best, as she deserves the best. Most of all I will miss her.

Iris,

Stay in touch. If you ever need anything, just ask.

Big hug.

Your eternal friend.

Robert

The New Toxic Asset

I was listening to the Planet Money podcast about how Wall Street is exacerbating the drought in California. It seems that investing large sums of money to speed up depleting the aquifer is a wise strategy for investors and farmers. Price of pistachio nuts is sky high and 1 pistachio nut needs 1 gallon of water, so farmers need to go deeper to pump up water, which needs more money. Wall Street to the rescue. Wonder if the fund managers are telling their asset owner investors that this agriculture investment is “impact investing”. This idea shows how the perversion of bonuses, no proper water pricing, and short term incentives makes good financial sense but very bad environmental sense. Check out the podcast.

Don’t reward bad behavior. It is one of the first rules of parenting. During the financial cataclysm of 2008, we said it differently. When we bailed out banks that had created their own misfortune, we called it a ‘moral hazard,’ because the bailout absolved the bank’s bad acts and created an incentive for it to make the same bad loans again.

Eliot Spitzer

Early Bird Discount TBLI CONFERENCE EUROPE Nov. 19-20 ends today

Guest Blog

Amit Sharma Co-Founder, Empowerment Capital

I find several phenomena in and around the “impact” sector to be a bit perplexing, given its stated objective for seeking social returns alongside financial/economic returns. As financial purists or ‘socially neutral’ investors may look to receive strong returns–or at least commensurate with deployed risk–when it comes to social enterprise investing, sometimes behaviors and expectations compared to traditional investing efforts seem set aside or changed in the following ways:
Time horizon: there are numerous examples in high tech, social media and initiatives in the information and big data economy where companies have openly expressed no view to near term profitability, and yet institutional investors flock to such deals with the patience that the firm is working toward strong market share, sector dominance or to achieve total proof of concept. One look no further than amazon– the world’s largest cloud-service provider taking years to achieve profitability (arguably continuing to innovate in ways that sacrifice near term profitability). Mainstream investors seem to find such investments attractive despite no real near term returns…but social enterprise ventures seem to be held to a higher standard–where investors demand attractive exits in the short term and positive cash flows in 18-36 months that will justify injections of capital.
Low vs high tech: some of the most innovative new ventures boast high tech solutions to meet consumer demand, requiring relatively large capital and R&D investments. Yet, often we look to impact-oriented activities to employ low-tech solutions to solve pressing development challenges, forcing such companies to cut on needed investments that would otherwise be more costly but ultimately could lead to greater efficiencies in delivering on our social objectives at scale. While multiples may be more attractive in sectors like gaming–whereby mainstream investors often incentivize beta testing, market exploration and high tech innovation–social enterprise may equally see attractive economics if they too were able to make larger capital expenditures that would benefit investors over time AND help achieve greater impact.
Risk-return calculation: Financial returns are a mere representation or proxy for other forms of value to investors: increased personal security, greater life and work flexibility, the facilitation of desired lifestyle, and/or the feeling of success that comes with positive economic investments. But all such returns need to be measured against risk–be it deployed financial capital, leveraged assets or relationships, or foregone opportunity costs given competing priorities. It seems to me, that if we ultimately seek greater welfare for ourselves and our communities, social enterprise investments may bring returns that are indeed commensurate with or exceed our deployed risk.
Growing impact may require a broader look out our fundamental investment objectives, and a reconciling of the standards we hold to mainstream vs social enterprise.

TBLI ASIA & Whacko People

Last week we held our first TBLI CONFERENCE ASIA  in Singapore. I had a fantastic experience, as did those who attended. Many came up to me who had attended TBLI in the past or who had never attended and were very impressed with the event and the quality of the people they met.

I particularly remember one person, who was invited by his friend to attend. This gentleman was very engaging with everyone he met and had worked in the real estate and hotel business for quite a while. We sat together over lunch and he leaned over to his friend, who had invited him and said “This has been great. Finally, you introduce me to intelligent, professional, authentic people. No whackos.”

I guess that is the best testimonial you can get.

Testimonials

Dear Robert,

..I’m delighted with the quality of both the content and the audience for the first TBLI/Insead event in Asia….I found that I and most of my fellow participants both learned a lot and made valuable new connections.  Thanks very much for your and your team’s efforts to make the event a success and I look forward to working with you in the future.

Ian Potter
Distinguished Fellow 
Insead

Hi Robert / Stephanie / Tiffany

It was great to meet you all and your team. I am impressed by TBLI value based culture and dedication to your mission.

Will be a pleasure and privilege to support you all in any way.

Wishing you all the best in your future endeavors and look forward to be in touch.

Safe travels. Best Regards

Lalit Matai
Operating Partner
Tau Investment Management

It was excellent! I did now know what to expect. I am sure it will be much bigger next time, but will regret it. We became almost like a “family”, so easy to reach out and talk with delegates. Got many hints and contacts. The presentations and the moderators where high class to the seminaries I went to. I also liked very much Robert’s introductory speech. Thank You.Anonymous

Upcoming Events:

We are particularly excited about the upcoming TBLI CONFERENCES. I want to particularly thank the sponsors that have committed to supporting us this year. If you want to be added to this list, contact me.

City of Buenos Aires
Insead
Copenhagen Business School
FMO
BNY Mellon
Triodos Investment Management
ASN Bank
AXA Investment Managers
Sparinvest
Nasdaq
Asia Capital Enterprises
Vietnam Holding
City Development
Hedblom
Wildlife Works
Aqal Capital
TBLI CONFERENCE LATIN AMERICA May 28-29, 2015 Invitation only (no costs). Hosted by City of Buenos Aires.
TBLI CONFERENCE NORDIC June 15-16, 2015.
TBLI CONFERENCE EUROPE November 19-20, 2015

Carbon Tax Success, and $ 21 Trillion in Assets

TBLI Nostalgia

In 2006, we held our first event in Asia. Bangkok, Thailand would be the host for TBLI CONFERENCE ASIA for the next 3 years. We really enjoyed hosting it there. Wonderful people, fantastic support, lots of fun, great food, beautiful Thai musicians, oh yeah almost forgot. The programs and networking were first class. I particularly enjoyed Piyasvasti Amranand, Minister of Energy and Senator Mechai Viravaidya, Founder and Chairman – Population And Community Development Association – Thailand.

The entire event was spectacular as you can see from the video and photos. I got quite emotional watching the film, as it brought back wonderful memories convening TBLI all these years. Many friendships were started and communities were forged. I was certainly younger. We even had a journalist from Dutch Radio, VPRO interviewing the various thought leaders.

Below is a video with impressions of that first TBLI in Asia. You can find more impressions of other TBLI CONFERENCES, maybe you will find a photo of yourself or friend. I apologise for the bad quality, but I was going through the archives and came across this video. Sorry if  you are not a Joni Mitchell fan, but I am.

Please join us in Singapore for TBLI CONFERENCE ASIA April 29-30 to create new memories.

Thailand 4 Thailand 5 Thailand 3 Thailand 1

News

How to adopt a Winning Carbon Tax. British Columbia has shown that it can work. Good reading.  British Columbia, Canada, implemented a carbon tax in 1998 and was a success. What can we learn from them.

ESG investments world wide reached $ 21 Trillion, according to Gloabal Sustainable Investment Review 2014, compiled by Global Sustainable Investment Alliance. The report covers all the different strategies.

  • Negative/exclusionary screening,
  • Positive/best-in-class screening,
  • Norms-based screening,
  • Integration of ESG factors,
  • Sustainability-themed investing,
  • Impact/community investing, and
  • Corporate engagement and shareholder action.