The global financial crisis in 2008 demonstrated the changing nature of capital markets and effectively woke up the financial sector. Investors, who are also evolving, increasingly witness the extent to which our financial, environmental and social systems affect their investments. They also realize that it works the other way around; their investment decisions make a strong impact, whether positive or negative, on those same systems as our world becomes more interconnected.
The Evolution of Investors
Gone are the days of investors seeking purely financial return. According to a recent report by The Investment Integration Project (TIIP), the nature of investing has changed since the early twentieth century, when the main objective was simply avoiding risky securities. Towards the late twentieth century, investors began to diversify their portfolios in order to actively manage risk. But it wasn’t until the present day that investors began to actually examine the various feedback loops between different systems and portfolios in order to better manage the risks of today and simultaneously create positive value for society.
Systems-level risk is real; we have all felt it, whether it’s the residual effects of the economic crisis eight years ago, climate change or the ongoing refugee crisis. It is absolutely essential to invest intently in systems, because financial return depends on healthy social, economic, environmental and political systems.
Investing with intent (also called impact investing) is indeed sophisticated; and the truth is that not many know how to do it. The next generation of investors, who are young and largely represented by females, take their global footprint seriously. Because of this, they seek investment opportunities that are representative of their values. And those are not that easy to find.
Bridging the Gap
Viaduct Ventures, an Impact Hub Zürich-based organization connecting investors with impact enterprises, is committed to bridging this gap. By developing a pipeline of impact-focused companies and examining value chains in various sectors such as food, education, energy, and more, Viaduct Ventures strives to foster collaboration between impact enterprises within and across thematic areas.
In order to increase the awareness and knowledge sharing within the Swiss business angel community about such approaches, Viaduct Ventures is supported by the Swiss Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI). As innovative concepts in the financial sector are crucial for Zurich, the initiative is also supported by the Division of Business and Economic Development of the Canton of Zurich.
New Year, New Chance
Our global economy is based on capitalism. If we decide to take a stab at alleviating the problems of today, we must further explore the potential of impact investing to create long-term global economy stability.