Are you an Impact Investor or Unicorn Hunter?

Thank you to Annie Spratt for this photo.

Have you noticed how many investment funds have been created in last 5-10 years all claiming to have Impact Investing focus. It is overwhelming to see so many investment professionals raise money, govt. institutions allocate money , or asset owners invest their own to fix or improve society. Admirable and noble. Billions have been raised to help fix societal and environmental challenges. This is inspiring at first glance, until you actually look under the hood.

Take a look at the mission statements or ambitions of several of the funds created recently.

  • “investment platform focused on generating superior returns aligned with sustainable principles”
  • “Assist great entrepreneurs developing products and services for the three billion people in the bottom half of the world’s economic pyramid.”
  • “We invest to build more inclusive and equitable societies.”
  • “We back founders on a mission to build a better world”
  • “dedicated to startups leveraging exponentially accelerating technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges.”
  • “investing into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.”
  • “seeking deeper positive net impact across the spectrum of capital”
  • “We believe that investment capital can help meet large-scale global challenges”
  • “enables private sector investment in projects aimed at climate adaptation and mitigation in developing countries.”
  • “We back entrepreneurs building climate tech for a regenerative world.”
  • “Our ambition is to identify and invest in high-impact solutions for climate mitigation, as well as to catalyse and multiply capital to scale them.”
  • “family office investing in regenerative food systems”
  • “vision to invest in entrepreneurs building sustainable enterprises that can catalyze development impact for excluded communities and remote geographies across the globe.”
  • “support promising entrepreneurs, with growth capital and proven business tools to reach their full potential and enable them to achieve systemic change.”
  • “backs technology businesses committed to having a positive impact that answers the most pressing social and ecological challenges of our time, in a way that is both scalable and sustainable.”
  • “invests in companies driving measurable social impact alongside business performance and strong returns.”
  • “we believe that we can address and alleviate some of the world’s challenges by investing with purpose. “

These are all fine and important aspirations but are these investment funds or investors really purpose driven or do they revert to traditional investment mind set of “hunting unicorns”. Those companies that will have a 1 billion dollar valuation. Isn’t that the purpose of investments to maximise returns for the investor. I don’t have a problem with that. I have a problem with the false packaging. If you are just hunting unicorns, just say so, so the entrepreneur won’t lose any time who’s mission is not to be a unicorn, but a zebra (focussed on improving society and environment, not exponential growth) . Most investments will never be unicorns.

It is hard to start and run a company and do the continuous capital raise. They should not be wasting their time with investors that want to be entertained, informed or are pretending to be interested when they are just researching competitive investments. Perhaps the most important question to ask an investor “are you a unicorn hunter?”. If they are and your ambition is to drawdown carbon by improving the soil and livelihoods of small holder farmers, without any apps, then the fit is wrong. If you want to create meaningful jobs for unemployed youth by doing vocational hospitality training then unicorn hunters are not going to help or invest. If you are a long term developer to de-commoditise the food system then don’t bother with unicorn hunters. If the mission or purpose is your raison d’être, then you are not helped and won’t get money from unicorn hunters. They are looking for an app, few employees, super fast scaling, warp speed growth and monopoly. It is a win-lose approach mindset.

Many investors and most vc’s are fund managers driven by achieving the carry, asap. Few ever ran a company. Growth, Market share, IPO’s are the mantra. They are looking for that big payoff asap. Zebras won’t do that, unicorns will. Maybe they will. At least in the eyes of unicorn hunters they will.

If you are looking to fundamentally restore the social and environmental balance first and foremost, as well as make a profit to fund all your activities and growth, avoid unicorn hunters; especially those pretending to be impact Investors. Those are the worst. They wrap themselves in something that is important to you, but has no value at all to them. Be discerning. Ask them are you a UH (unicorn hunter) or II (Impact Investor) .

The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.

Groucho Marx

TBLI Goes on the Road to China

China Road Show

I will be doing a China Road show to speak about Value(s) Investing in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing. Hope you can join us if you are in the area. Thank you to the organisers, particularly Peiyuan Guo of Syntao, for their kind invitation.

TBLI 20th Anniversary-What Now?

As you can see TBLI made it big on Times Square, thanks to Nasdaq.

Our 20th Anniversary, last week, was a great success. I want to thank all those who attended and supported us. It was a joy engaging with so many thoughtful, passionate, committed, generous, thought leaders. I was particularly touched by this testimonial.

“I admit that slavefreetrade did not attend with high hopes of making impact, as the 1% crowd is very different from the people we usually mingle with. But it was overwhelming to find that our work delivered what seemed to be clear emotional touchpoints for many investors. The ESG investment community is not one we had before the chance to mix with. Being able to bridge social impact work with ESG investing was breathtakingly interesting, refreshing and, frankly, very reassuring about the quality of people in general.”

Brian Iselin-President, slavefreetrade.org

For those that want to get an impression of the event. We have posted photos of the event, and will be updating our website with presentations made, and reports, shortly.

Going forward we have been working on several innovative ideas that will allow us to scale our capacity building work and mobilising more assets towards Value(s) Investing. Stay tuned.

Tribute Robert Rubinstein

During the last TBLI Conference in Stockholm, last week, my wife, Rieki Crins, gave me a beautiful surprise. In secret, which is not easy, she had been colleting testimonials from various friends and thought leaders. I was totally surprised and overwhelmed with such a beautiful gesture. Thank you to all who participated.

For those interested, you can find the book here. We have received several more testimonials since publishing the book, so we will update it.


Robert Rubinstein Speaking at Upcoming events:

ZUG IMPACT SUMMIT INVITATION- FAITH IN FINANCE- 30 & 31 October 2017
 
Prestel & Partner- Family Office Forum Zurich, 14 – 15 November
Program

Principals or Family Offices have free admission whilst solution providers must reserve a limited pass
Contact: office@prestelandpartner.com

I would like to be speaker/and or sponsor

 TBLI Impact Dinners

TBLI Foundation is organising 6 Value(s) Investing private dinners as fund raisers for its work in building a global community of Values Investors. The 6 dinners will be held in various European locations from Oct.-Dec,  for a small group of thought leaders (25 max.). The goal is to support each other in our ambition of scaling up Value(s) Investing.
You will enjoy the food, company and conversation. The location will always be warm, comfortable,refreshing with delicious food and wine.
Come meet your peers, in a trusted environment,  who share a passion of using investment to improve society and the environment, as well as making money.
The costs for attending the dinner are Euros 295,— (equivalent amount in Pounds, CHF, or SEK) Just click on the register button for the event that you would like to attend and fill in registration form.
Locations are:
October 11, Amsterdam-The Dylan Amsterdam
October 30, Zurich Haus zum Rüden
Nov. 9, Geneva Cercle de la Terrasse
Nov. 23, Milan Giacomo Arengario 
Dec. 5, London, House of St. Barnabus
Dec. 13, Paris, Cercle de L’Union Interalliée
If you would like to join us, please send email

 

Overnight success after 20 years

I was reflecting on the upcoming TBLI Conference Nordic 2017, and realised that this will be our 20th Anniversary. I couldn’t believe it. Had it been 20 years since we started TBLI, educating asset owner and managers about ESG and Impact Investing? Time really flew. I started to think of what had been accomplished. That was an even bigger eye opener.

This reflection coincided with a road show that I was planning for Copenhagen, so I decided to host a small seminar in Copenhagen at Rainmaking Loft, to discuss 20 years TBLI and what had been accomplished. In preparing, for this seminar, I reflected on what were the major breakthroughs that created the eco-system that we have now and what role did TBLI play in that. It was a great exercise as I forgot how TBLI influenced several important ESG and Impact breakthroughs. In addition,  those attending the seminar enjoyed thoroughly the 3 hour talk. The interaction with the audience was what I really enjoyed. I will definitely use part of that presentation for my opening talk at TBLI Nordic 2017 in Stockholm, Sept 28-29th, as Nasdaq.

We often forget what has worked and the progress we have made. `it. is important to avoid only listening  to headlines of a non-empathetic super power, or out of control climate change. Those stories are true and disturbing, but let’s not forget where we started from 20 years ago, and where are we now. I remember speaking to corporate groups, 20 years ago, who were afraid to hear the TBLI  story or even touch any publication dealing with ESG or Impact. Now everyone wants to join or be part of the ESG/Impact Fitness Club. That is wonderful. Now if we could only get those to actually do the exercises and reveal how much weight they lost.

I guess we are all an overnight success after 20 years. Come join us to celebrate.