All about impact investing

You don’t have to be a superhero to change the world. Impact investing makes it possible for ordinary people like you to make a positive impact in your lifetime.

With so many critical needs and compelling causes in the world, many people may feel too overwhelmed to get involved. Impact investing gives anyone the opportunity to make a significant contribution over time to sustainable ideas that make a difference. Christian Super is proud to be a global leader in impact investing, helping our members to be a part of changing lives with their Super.

What is impact investing?

Impact investing helps to finance practical solutions to serious social, environmental and economic challenges locally and abroad. This involves investing into companies and organisations that focus on generating measurable social or environmental benefits, as well as a financial return.

Impact investing partners investors with businesses that are helping solve large and complex problems in society. By pooling the resources of many to fund innovative companies and innovative approaches we make a huge impact on global challenges, helping hundreds of thousands of vulnerable or disadvantaged people.

Impact investments are used by organisations and businesses spanning a wide range of areas. These include aged care, the arts, community development, health, employment, housing, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and international development.

One of our many impact investments is Big Tree Farms (BTF), which Christian Super invests in through the Unitus Livelihood Impact Fund. BTF is an excellent example of a business that is eligible to receive impact investment. BTF is a supply chain and foods company specialising in coconut sweeteners, coconut water concentrate and cacao. They procure, package and distribute Fair Trade and certified organic products to the U.S., Europe and Asia, generating annual gross revenue of over $10 million. They work with marginalised Indonesian coconut farmers to offer a 34% price premium for the farmers over local market prices. They focus on making a positive impact in the lives of vulnerable farmers while building a profitable and sustainable business.

Does impact investing really make a profit?

Impact investments differ from donations because a financial return is expected from the investment. This makes impact investments a viable and sustainable investment strategy for any business, fund or organisation that wants to make a contribution to a better world.

In order for Christian Super to consider something to be an impact investment the business or organisation must demonstrate how it intentionally sets about creating meaningful positive social or environmental outcomes, and how applying additional capital will help reach more people.

While the impact investing market is still a relatively new field, there is remarkable potential. Globally, it is estimated to reach between US$600 billion and US$1 trillion within a decade.

The findings from a field scan by the Australian Advisory Board on Impact Investing in February 2018 show that there is a shared understanding that impact investing has strong potential. The field scan combines findings from interviews with key players in the impact investing market, research on local and international trends and case studies. Many participants see past estimates of a $32 billion market size in Australia by 2023 as conservative, especially if larger institutional investors engage.

How is Christian Super involved with impact investing?

Christian Super has been a pioneer in impact investing in Australia and around the world. We were recognised by the Global Steering Group on Impact Investing as the inaugural Asset Owner of the Year in 2017. Impact investments strongly align with our members’ Christian values; providing support and dignity to vulnerable people and stewarding the environment while building members’ savings towards a purposeful retirement.

Christian Super is committed to this field both in research and in making impact investments. By contributing to important industry research and surveys, and publishing the performance of our impact investments, we are helping to empower more investors with knowledge of what is working in the impact investing market. Increased clarity and understanding helps to drive more organisations to engage in this promising and worthwhile space.

We allocate more to impact investing than any other Super fund in Australia. Through impact investing, Christian Super has been able to:

  • Help facilitate the tertiary education of low income students in Mexico
  • Restore Australian foster children to their homes
  • Provide hospital beds in India
  • Contribute to the production of clean energy from renewable sources
  • Provide microfinancing loans and microinsurance policies in the developing world

This contribution represents dramatic life-change for many people, and your super makes it all possible. You can read more about how your super is making is making a difference in Nepal, India and Kenya.

 

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