Private and public actors are increasingly acknowledging that some of the world’s most pressing challenges are too abundant and too complex to be solved by states, NGOs, and philanthropists alone. Climate change affecting the globe, discrimination affecting full equality, and the unprecedented pervasiveness of stress, depression, and anxiety affecting humanity transcends private obligations and public responsibilities.
This has triggered new forms of financing to develop and implement effective and innovative solutions to these challenges. By channeling entrepreneurship, innovation, and capital, social impact investment is currently revolutionizing how we address the challenges that society is facing.
Social impact investment goes beyond risk and return. It intentionally targets specific social objectives along with a financial return and measures the achievement of both. By investing in companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate social and environmental impact and financial return, social impact investment has the potential to transform societies and manage the social, demographic, and environmental developments.
As a term, social impact investment was coined in 2007, but activities of this kind have been around for much longer. At first, impact investment was simply about not investing in “the bad guys”, and a trade-off between return or impact was perceived. More recently, the scope of social impact investment has broadened and asserts that investment in “the good guys” will allow investors to get returns and impact. The next step of social impact investment will be investors seeking return from impact, and estimates project that social impact investments will approach $1 trillion worldwide by 2020.
In spite of the rapid development, social impact investments only make up less than one percent of all invested capital globally. Voluntas is about a fundamental change to the way money is earned, spent, and invested. We have made an explicit financial and moral commitment to improve the world by applying our three principles — Meaningfulness, Diversity, and Sustainability — in all our investment advisory.
Our premise is simple: to us, social impact is defined by making work more meaningful, enabling a productive distribution of gender and culture in top management, and ensuring a more sustainable procurement of energy in every company that we facilitate investments into.
With our advisory and work, we dream of transforming meaningfulness from a concept to a concrete tool that can be used each day by millions of people to improve their lives. We dream of achieving equality, for men and women alike, and for all races and nationalities. We dream of companies worldwide taking ownership of their energy supply chain to demand the use of sustainable energy.
We believe that ‘doing good’ and ‘doing well’ are not conflicting because we know that companies that apply our principles are simply more competitive, yielding a higher social and financial return. We strive to drive the agenda of reconnecting work with meaning and purpose to create a better society for all.
To us, social impact investment is not limited to making a positive change in the poorest, least developed countries and regions; since no society has successfully achieved full equality, managed to crack the code behind inspired and committed employees or solved the imminent climate crisis, social impact investments can make a difference globally, even in the most developed parts of our world – and we intend to make that change, one facilitated investment at a time.
From where we stand, the value of money depends on how it is earned.
Voluntas’ investment advisory is grounded in our core principles: Meaningfulness, Diversity, and Sustainability. Every investment that we enable and manage comes with a commitment to ensure over time a high sense of meaning in your employees’ work, a productive distribution of gender and nationality in the top management, and an electricity consumption exclusively based on renewable energy.
Specifically, we require that all companies implement a bi-annual meaningfulness survey (for companies with +15 employees) within 1 year of agreement, have at least 1 female member or 1 member with a different nationality than the company’s in top management or the board of directors within 2 years, and ensure that the controlled part of the electricity procurement is based 100 % on renewable energy within 3-5 years. However, the commitment to and implementation of our principles is always contextual to ensure a cultural and strategic adaptation viable to the individual case and market.
All portfolio companies report bi-annually on their progress on complying with the targets for implementing Meaningfulness, Diversity, and Sustainability into their organization. We will publish the collective progress of our portfolios upon finalizing the annual reporting – expectedly in May 2017.
Investment cases will be subjected to two initial screening processes in which we assess both the compatibility with Voluntas’ principles and purpose as well as the commercial potential.
Readiness to commit to Meaningfulness, Diversity, and Sustainability
Alignment between the purpose of Voluntas and the purpose of your idea, project or company
Assessing management, scalability, level of innovation, and business case and potential