On 23rd of June, we held a webinar, on the topic - "Tracking performance of investments made using the SDG Lens". The 3 panelists were investors - Prema Jaiswal from Caspian Investments, Starlene Johnson Sharma from ACT Grants and Green Arth and Markus Lehmann from Navigatio Capital.
The discussions started with the investors highlights and the investment thesis the respective investor teams went by. The core discussion started with the due diligence process and how the investors chose a business to invest in and if sustainability was a deciding factor and if they followed SDGs for the same. This was followed by the key agenda of the day - How did the investors measure their investments made through the SDG lens. What kind of metrics and frameworks they followed.
A large number of attendees were entrepreneurs and investors. It was easy to guess the eagerness the entrepreneurs had, with the questions being asked. While a few of the entrepreneurs were looking for guidance on raising funds and building partnerships for their startups, what was interesting to note was a substantial interest in sustainability models (double / triple bottom lines) for startups. Which we believe is a trend catching up and if one hasn't already come across these terms, they are going to do so really soon. Helping the startups understand their negative impact on the environment and society and reducing it to the point of insignificance and amplifying all the positive impacts possible for a business would help the startups to implement triple bottom lines - especially if they implement this as close as possible to their own business processes. . There was another interesting question from an attendee - it was around the latest release of the Business Responsibility Sustainability Report mandated by the Ministry of Corporate affairs for top 1000 listed companies by mcap. The question was around - How does the list of indicators asked by SEBI match with the indicators monitored by your organizations while making investment decisions? Part of this was responded to when the investor panelists were explaining their due diligence process. Also - the BRSR has indicators based on SDGs / 10 principles of the UNGC & the National Guidelines on Responsible Business Conduct (NGRBC). While every investor has a different approach to funneling the investee firms, if they use SDG framework (incl. ESG) at some level to measure their investee firms (during due diligence) , they will be able to easily map a significant part of the investment decisions to BRSR.
There was also a question on the cost of debt for impact startups, which was adequately addressed by Prema Jaiswal. She mentioned this is a very context driven subject and could vary based on the stage of the startups and what it really needs for growth, the rates could vary but in general - the CAG is around 14%.
Overall a fun session and we are gearing towards our next one already!! See you there!!
Mr. Lehmann, President of Navigatio Capital, is dedicated to the deployment of capital in the New
Energy and Agribusiness Sector. Navigatio partners with strategic investment funds worldwide engaging
the principles of responsible investment (PRI) to achieve UN’s sustainable development goals (SDG).
Navigatio operates in: NAFTA, LATAM, India, Europe. In 2017 Markus was the Strategic Advisor to IFU
(Danish Sovereign Wealth Fund for Emerging Markets). He originated, concluded investment and credit
lines in the hundreds of millions of dollars, while currently focused on the North & South America New
Energy sectors. Mr. Lehmann independently sourced +$500 million equity financing for Canada’s largest
solar production facility.
Prema has 14+ Years of experience in the Financial sector. Her experience revolves around designing corporate business products and resolving operational hiccups, both achieved through digital solutions, Branchless Banking and lots of passion. She has been managing several products and processes throughout their lifecycle, which are business critical and impact oriented.
She heads the Business Operations and Systems for Caspian Impact Investments. Prior to Caspian, Prema was AVP- Operations/Monitoring with FINO Paytech Ltd. She also has experience working in IT with Hewlett Packard managing cross geography applications.
She holds a B.Tech degree from, VTU Karnataka and also a Post Graduate MBA in Rural Management from Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA), Gujarat.
Starlene Sharma is an experienced investor and entrepreneur who has scaled organizations with global reach. She is Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Green Artha, a climate innovation and investment firm that manages the ACT-Environment Fund and the Climate Capital Network.
Through leading early-stage investment at Sangam Ventures and establishing AIC Sangam Innovation Foundation (India’s first government recognized cleantech incubator) she was established as an authority on climate innovation. Prior to this, she was part of the founding team of two tech-for-development startups in India and scaled an NGO to seven countries.
She started her career at Landmark Advisors, a New York hedge fund that she helped grow from $80mn to $880mn. Starlene is the founder of Cleantech Women’s Innovation Network and the Consulting Climate Editor for Business India.
Smita Mishra is the founder of Fandoro Technologies, a SaaS startup that helps businesses become planet-positive through the adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals framework. They help enterprises build purpose-led businesses by identifying and managing their sustainability-related risks and opportunities. She’s also the Founder and CEO of QAZone Infosystems, a software testing firm.
Smita is an experienced entrepreneur with a demonstrated history of working in the financial services, retail, banking, and utility industries. As a computer science engineer, Smita is skilled in data analytics and user experience. She’s also adept in the areas of business risk mitigation for tech products as well as project/product/test management.Aside from also being an international speaker on technology and diversity in tech, Smita also engages with different forums to assist growth for women in her field.