Last week EVPA held their Annual Conference, this time entirely virtually, and Alliance asked our readers in a poll for the session you’d like to hear most about. The winner was ‘Leveraging Connections and Knowledge from Latin America: engaging investing for impact practices’ – take a look at our conference report below.
While Latin America is often on the front line of political, social and environmental challenges, speakers from three countries of the region, all board members of the recently constituted Latimpacto, EVPA’s sister network in that region, offered some positive signs.
In Mexico, there is a growing and increasingly diverse ecosystem for social investing, said Martha Herrera of CEMEX. There are now designated impact funds and intermediaries are beginning to appear to complement the work of large corporate and family foundations. Corporations like CEMEX are now making radical changes, with initiatives to support social entrepreneurship, develop community investment and foster digital training for the workforce of the future.
While Brazil is undergoing the worst political period in its recent history, said Iuri Rapaport of investment bank, BTG Pactual, traditional investors are waking up to the fact that they need to take account of social and environmental considerations, often because a new generation of business owners is demanding this from them. The Brazilian stock market, he said, shows that the most sustainable companies are becoming the ones that perform best. Though there is no question of euphoria, he said, he feels it is ‘a positive moment’.
In Colombia, too, says Pablo Obregon (Fundacion Santo Domingo), the growth of corporate foundations in the 1990s has led to the development of an ecosystem in which best practice is being shared and where new impact investment ideas and actors are appearing. Following the end of the long civil war in Colombia, foundations are now beginning to reach into the rural areas where their intervention is sorely needed. What’s more, though previously there was very little collaboration between donors and social investors, this is now changing. His foundation has launched three SIBs in partnership with other foundations and has become involved in a multi-sector alliance to tackle the pandemic. While all three presenters concluded that there is both need and appetite for impact investing in the three countries, Pablo Obregon added a caution. There is a tendency among medium- and high-net worth investors to seek novelty. They are less interested in investing in existing projects and wanted to start their own which was leading to a fragmentation of the sector. All three presenters called for more cooperation and greater partnership with the public sector.
Andrew Milner is associate editor of Alliance magazine