Where can investors look for good impact investment deals? How to measure the impact and what are some standard metrics? Is there any definition of a social enterprise? Is there a community of impact funds or impact investors in Hong Kong that we can share deals with?
Numerous questions were raised by audience at the Webinar on Impact Investment held on 12 March 2020. The session, as the first one of the webinar/seminar series on impact investment in 2020, was delivered by two respected experts in the field. They included Prof. Kevin Au, Associate Professor of Department of Management and Director of Centre for Entrepreneurship and Centre for Family Business at CUHK Business School, and Ms. Rosa Lee, Chief Investment Officer at Grand Capital Holdings Ltd. Prof. Au and Rosa represented the perspectives from the sell-side and buy-side respectively.
The webinar received an overwhelming response with over 260 registrations, including CUHK students and graduates, affiliated partners/clients, as well as students and guests affiliated with University of Chicago. They come from a diversified background, ranging from the investment community, NGOs, social sectors to the general public with an interest in starting impact investment. “We are excited to see the increasing interest in impact investment in the Hong Kong business community as compared to previous years. Having said that, there are still lots of rooms to build up a healthy ecosystem that could benefit the society with positive impacts and returns,” said Prof. Au.
“There are different networks or community of impact funds to share deals with and provide a platform of knowledge transfer. People may actively participate to raise the level of knowledge on impact investments. These platforms include Social ventures Hong Kong (SVHK), Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN), Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund (SIE Fund), Hong Kong Business Angels Network, and so on,” said Prof. Au. While there is a growing awareness on impact investment to the investors’ circle and more potential social enterprises or NGOs developing in the region, the bridging between the two is still of a certain level of importance.
As a seasoned investor, Rosa is optimistic about the return of impact investment to investors, “the expected return can be competitive. According to the recent study released by the GSIA (Global Sustainable Investment Alliance), the return can be as good as other asset classes,” said Rosa. She encourages potential investors to find a cause that they are passionate about so as to make the investment portfolio more meaningful. She shared her experience of an investment in an energy conservation project for the Lee Woo Sing College at CUHK where she also sits on the college’s overseeing committee. “The impact that the project generates is impressive, causing approximately 30-40% less electricity consumption as compared to similar residential halls,” said Rosa proudly. The environmental impact is one of the considerations when measuring impact investment return.
The webinar is jointly organised by the Asia-Pacific Institute of Business, CUHK Business School and the Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. The two organisers share the same vision in enhancing the awareness and level of knowledge in the field of impact investment in Hong Kong and nearby regions. Prior to this webinar, the two partners jointly organised “Building Portfolios with Impact: A Workshop on Creating and Managing Impact Investment Strategies” back in fall 2018, creating a synergy in knowledge transfer to the community that involved both investors and social entrepreneurs. In the year ahead, the organisers will be hosting another webinar session in May and a workshop in Q3 of 2020. To stay tuned, you may visit the website of the Asia-Pacific Institute of Business.