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SEAF at the RIIA Hoffman Finance Forum – Dialogue on Finance for Social and Environmental Enterprises 

SEAF at the RIIA Hoffman Finance Forum – Dialogue on Finance for Social and Environmental Enterprises 

The RIIA Hoffman Finance Forum was held last week at Chatham House in London, the UK’s oldest and most well-established think tank, and SEAF Managing Director Jan Cherim participated in the roundtable on Moving from Niche to Mainstream: Finance for Social and Environmental Enterprises. The dialogue explored the scale and nature of the challenges and opportunities that this type of financing presents, with the aim of identifying priority areas that warrant additional investment and discussing how new or existing partnerships can accelerate progress in this area or manage risks.

Chatham House’s Hoffman Centre for Sustainable Resource Economy is coordinating these dialogues as a scoping project to identify key levers to catalyze action and to help unlock growth for small and growing enterprises with explicit social and environmental goals. Chatham House also aims to evaluate and design models for alternative financial intermediaries that support business models that integrate social environmental impacts into their practice. The series of strategic dialogues throughout 2019 will convene leaders from finance, industry, start-ups, social enterprises, and governments to identify opportunities for action. Along with SEAF, UBS Wealth Management, Jupiter Asset Management, FTSE Russell, Earth Capital, and the Argidius Foundation participated in the roundtable, among other prominent organizations.

Jan notes that “this was a diverse and challenging group, from wealth managers to venture capitalists, rating agencies and NGO researchers, all of whom were active in underserved markets. The cross-pollination you can generate in this sort of focused session can lead to unexpected connections.”

“Particularly around the issues to do with perception of risks – both macro and micro – associated with smaller company investment, it is clear that the venture capital world and the frontier markets SME community have interesting lessons to exchange,” says Jan.  “For the ratings people, the discussions were a real eye-opener and might lead to some better work on impact investment from them.  This is a really important area for SEAF’s funds and attracting new investor classes.  As the only real emerging markets PE firm in attendance, I think we had some influence in pushing this agenda further.”