Events - 28.04.2015 - 00:00 


On the occasion of the first Impact Investing Conference on the HSG campus, experts from academia and practice discussed investments that generate a measurable social or ecological benefit.


28 April 2015. The University of St.Gallen’s hub in São Paulo and the Impact Investing Latin America research platform, which was initiated by the HSG, organised a conference in Switzerland for the first time. After three runs in Brazil, the Impact Investing & Social Finance Conference was this year staged on the campus of the University of St.Gallen for the first time. The term “impact investing “ denotes investments in companies which besides financial profit also strive for measurable social or ecological benefit.

“A great deal of money is injected into agriculture – but how can these investments be made in a more sustainable manner?” asked moderator Heiko Specking (specking+partners ltd.) at the beginning of the initial panel discussion, which was entitled “How can social finance/impact investing embrace the tremendous opportunities in agroecology, biodiversity and conservation finance?” Adrian Wiedmer (Gebana) called the banana trade a highly successful example of fair trade. “Fair trade bananas now account for more than 50 per cent of the market.” For him, no investments have more of an impact than those in agriculture.

Fabian Huwyler (Vice President, Sustainability Affairs, Credit Suisse Group) explained that impact investment in environmental matters is lagging 15 years behind investments with a social impact but that the market was growing. Among other things, Huwyler presented a financial product which is able to make investments attractive in order to preserve biodiversity. Meanwhile Mauricio Benitez (responsAbility Investments AG) brings together potential investors and sustainable entrepreneurs to ensure that ultimately the investors, the enterprise and the environment or society will profit – a “win-win-win” situation.

Finally, Fredo Arias King spoke about investments in pine forests. He did so with the help of the example of the Purépecha people in the Mexican federal state of Michoacán, who run sustainable businesses on the basis of pine resin. Making money is also possible without deforestation – with pine resin, which is processed into materials such as adhesives, ink and beverage components. Arias’s Ejido Verde initiative is working on this form of usable pine forest, which covers the equivalent of 24,000 football pitches.

Photo: Robert Stürmer / 

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