BlueOrchard partners with the WorldBank’s IFC to promote industry best practices
Impact investing has been globally recognized as a way to mobilize public and private capital to address social and environmental challenges alongside achieving financial returns. It is a powerful tool to help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. There is, however, a USD 2.5 trillion annual investment gap to achieve the SDGs in emerging countries. In order to deliver on the SDGs, the impact investing industry has to reach a considerable scale. The main obstacle in this process is the lack of a global and common set of impact tools and practices. This is hindering the industry from speaking the same language, thereby making it more difficult for investors to make informed decisions and enter the impact investing space.
As a leading impact investment manager, BlueOrchard has been contributing to industry best practices as well as developing its own proprietary tools, such as SPIRIT, the Social Performance Impact Reporting & Intelligence Tool. This year marks the 10th anniversary of SPIRIT as well as its sixth iteration, which is aligned with the soon to be launched IFC Operating Principles for Impact Management. On this occasion, we have interviewed BlueOrchard’s Impact Manager, Nadina Stodiek to gain further knowledge on the topic and understand how new impact management standards and tools will transform the impact investing industry.
Nadina, could you please tell us what the IFC Operating Principles for Impact Management are about?
Nadina: As a member of the World Bank aiming to advance economic development, the International Financial Corporation (IFC) is a reference when it comes to investing in commercial products for poverty reduction and development. In an attempt to advance the sustainable investing industry, the IFC has been developing a set of 9 Operating Principles for Impact Management in collaboration with the most relevant industry actors. Recognized industry-wide, these principles provide guidance on how to establish an effective impact management system. They also bring a more universal view on how should an impact management system be set up to be clear and understood by all its users. Moreover, they are fit-for-purpose, allowing their applicability to different types of institutions including asset owners, asset managers but also funds and investment companies (i.e. investees). BlueOrchard has been involved in the design of the principles.
Why did BlueOrchard decide to support the development and implementation of these principles?
Nadina: BlueOrchard has long been supporting the development of a global and common set of tools and best practices for impact management. We are one of the few impact investors with a proprietary tool called SPIRIT, which we created already ten years ago. This tool, as well as other company processes, have been updated on a regular basis to increase their accuracy and to incorporate the latest and most relevant industry developments. We are convinced that the IFC principles will become a benchmark industry standard, as they are a push towards standardization easily applicable to the different stakeholders in the industry. We therefore proactively contributed to their development and have aligned the latest version of SPIRIT to the Principles.
Why is it important to establish an industry-wide impact management system? Why now?
Nadina: In order for the impact investing industry to develop, grow further and attract more investors and thereby significantly contribute to the achievement of the SDGs and global social and environmental challenges, it is necessary to unify best practices and create a common set of tools to measure impact. More and more investors rightly expect impact measurements which can be compared industry-wide in the same way as mainstream financial measurements. A comparable, common set of impact measurements will help additional investors to enter the space and make a social and/or environmental impact.
What does this mean for the future of the industry?
Nadina: We are nearly ten years away from 2030, the deadline to achieve the SDGs. However, the capital required to meet the 17 goals has not been reached yet. It is part of BlueOrchard’s impact credo and DNA to continue to focus its efforts on mobilizing capital for impact investments in emerging and frontier markets and the achievement of the SDGs. We will also continue to lead the way in terms of impact management by capitalizing on our almost 20-year impact investing track-record to implement best-practices in impact management and share our expertise. For instance, we will release our latest impact report this April and give an overview of our impact management tools and themes, with a special focus on our updated SPIRIT tool.
This interview was conducted by Alicia Boissonnas, Marketing & Communications Assistant