By Christina Ameln, CSR | Sustainability Advisor –
Meet some of the pioneers working on CSR, Sustainability and Community in Vietnam! As part of a series on Vietnam, I will be introducing you to some of them over the summer.
For more background, please read previous article on – A Look into CSR in Vietnam. Happy summer reading!
Introducing Shuyin Tang, Principal at Unitus Impact
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I currently work for Unitus Impact, a venture capital firm which supports early stage companies that improve the livelihoods of the working poor in Asia’s fastest growing economies. I’ve worked in investing, management consulting and development consulting across Australia, India and Southeast Asia, and am now proud to call Vietnam home.
Explain what a venture capitalist is and how you work on CSR/Sustainability?
Venture capital is a form of financing that is provided to early-stage companies that are thought to have high growth potential. Venture capitalists typically take equity positions in promising young companies, support them as they grow, then look for an exit, typically through an acquisition or IPO.
At Unitus Impact, we not only have the goal of generating strong financial returns for our investors – like all other venture capitalists – but also improving the livelihoods of the working poor. By this we mean: how do we increase the incomes of the working poor and/or provide them with better access to essential goods and services? This places us amongst a new breed of investors called ‘impact investors’, investing for both social as well as financial return.
Why has CSR as a ‘value-added’ become an important area to your industry?
Many investors – spanning from large institutional investors like pension funds and endowments, to individual investors – are increasingly interested in the social and environmental impact of their investments. At a very minimum, most investors are using ‘negative screening’ to avoid investments into areas such as tobacco or weapons. Increasingly, investors are also experimenting with approaches that apply ‘positive screening’ i.e. looking for investments in companies which actively seek to solve social problems.
Impact investing is still very nascent in Southeast Asia, and Unitus Impact is very excited to have recently closed one of the first impact funds for the region: the $45 million Livelihood Impact Fund. We hope that the economic success of the fund, alongside its measurable social impact, will encourage a wider group of investors to consider the advantages of impact investing, and more specifically, investing in companies focused on improving livelihoods.
Why is South East Asia an important region?
Southeast Asia is a great place to prove out an investment thesis centred around both strong financial return and livelihood impact. Our fund’s target geographies – Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and India – are characterized by significant economic growth and a high density of low-income populations with growing purchasing power. At the same time, many inefficiencies in supply chains and distribution systems remain, creating tremendous opportunities to unlock value for the working poor. Looking ahead over the next 3-5 years, we also see strong opportunities for exit via acquisition or sale to local or multinational companies looking to expand their reach in these fast-growing economies.
How can both individuals and other businesses work with you?
We are always on the look-out for promising ventures with strong management teams, significant growth potential and measurable livelihood impact within our target geographies. If you think you could be a good fit for our investment criteria don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’m also always happy to have a chat about impact investing, social enterprise, and the Vietnam start-up ecosystem.
Any last comments/thoughts?
It’s incredibly exciting to be working towards a world in which capital markets allocate resources on the basis of not just risk and return, as they have done for centuries, but risk, return and impact.
I believe the groundwork is there – what would be great to see now is some successful exits in the impact space that really prove out our thesis.
- For more information on CSR, Sustainability and Community Engagement consultancy company visit – Ameln & Co AB
First published July 13, 2016 on Linkedin.