SPEECH AT THE GLOBAL IMPACT SUMMIT-MALAGA
José Luis Curbelo, COFIDES chairman and CEO
Amigos. Amigas…Ladies and gentlemen
It is great to be in Malaga, a city of light and enlightenment!
I want to begin my speech by expressing my sincere appreciation to GSG (Global Steering Group) and to SpainNAB for inviting COFIDES and me to participate at this edition of the Global Impact Summit.
I extend my gratitude to Juan Bernal and Jose Luis Ruiz de Muniain for their instrumental roles in making this event happen.
Gracias to all of you!!
I want to share with you a couple of seminal convictions that I share with Sir Ronald Cohen which probably are a thread that unites this heterogeneous community:
- The need to prioritize the integration of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into investment decisions, fostering transparency and accountability in the financial sector…Yesterday inaugural session triplet risk-return- impact.
- The notion that capitalism can be a force for good…when used responsibly and ethically, leveraging private capital to drive positive change in the world.
- Of course, as Martin Wolf said yesterday, all of us know that this is not always the case. The price of this evolution is the growing populism.
Allow me to add, that previously referred Cohen’s principles are today at the core of COFIDES day to day investment activities.
And more exactly, they are at the core of the €400 million Fondo de Impacto Social (y Mediambiental), or FIS, recently approved by the Government of Spain
- I will talk with some detail about FIS in the second part of my presentation but BEFORE doing so, allow me to share some personal comments about the importance of this gathering.
The relevance of the themes under discussion and the quality of speakers and participants at this summit in Malaga are truly impressive.
It's clear that everyone here is deeply committed to addressing difficult global challenges, and I'm genuinely humbled by the collective expertise and dedication in this room, as well as by the many nuances and problematics to be considered should any want to provide solutions to the growing social and environmental challenges our societies have ahead of us.
I also realize the immense amount of work that you and your institutions have already done -and will continue to do- in the future.
Because, the challenges we face today are of an unprecedented scale and complexity, and they can't be solved by charities, philanthropies, traditional market forces and behaviors, or governments alone.
- Governments, even those with good intentions, more often than not, have limited fiscal resources and bureaucratic and governance constraints, which hinder their ability to provide long-lasting solutions to severe challenges.
That's why I firmly believe in collaboration between the private sector (including philanthropy and the social economy) and the public sector to find solutions and mobilize resources.
By BLENDING our resources, risk tolerance, expertise, ingenuity, and creativity…and so on… we can work together to find sustainable solutions.
- A key side-benefit of this collaboration is the leverage it creates.
- When private funding is combined with public sector financing, it frees-up valuable resources that can be directed towards the most complex challenges that may not be easily tackled by the private or philanthropic sector alone.
In any case, as we gather here in Málaga, we must remember that our mission extends beyond these walls.
- Out there…we must demonstrate the effectiveness and efficiency of investing our time and resources in institution building and capital mobilization.
- Our challenge is consolidating strong ECOSYSTEMS, based on TRANSPARENCY AND TRUST and far away from impact-washing.
FIS: THE SOCIAL (AND ENVIRONMENTAL) IMPACT FUND OF SPAIN
FIS IS A ONE-SHOT 400 MILLION € ENDOWMENT BY THE SPANISH GOVERNMENT TO PRMOTE IMPACT INVESTING IN SPAIN
Impact investments are defined by FIS, following the definition of the Global Impact Investing Network (or GIIN):
- That Intentionally seek to address social or environmental challenges,
- Explicitly establish quantifiable and measurable impact targets, and
- Search for a financial return on capital at least equal to the principal invested è this implies that, whenever appropriate, financing can be concessional.
Investments in any asset class
THE IMPACT INVESTING ECOSYSTEM IN SPAIN
From our point of view impact investment applies innovative business tools to solve:
- social and environmental problems, and
- contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
In designing FIF lessons have been learned from other experiences: UK, Portugal France, etc.
In Spain, this type of investment has been growing significantly in recent years, thanks to public initiatives, but mainly through private initiatives of various origins.
Relevant data (from the Impact Investment Advisory Board of SpainNab).
- In 2021 there were:
- 39 impact investment vehicles
- With € 2.4 billion under management.
- 1,838 million (70%) were managed by ethical and social banking.
- 436.8 million (18%) were managed by 15 private equity funds
- 230 million (10% of the total) by foundations
- …and the remaining 4% of the total (around 99 million) were managed by insurance companies, pension funds and public institutions.
As José Luis de Muniain said yesterday, the growth rate of assets under management is accelerating during the last few years.
- The amount of assets under management today is five times that of 2018 (€92 million).
- Grew by 33% in the period 2020-2021
CHARACTERISTICS OF FIS
- Endowed with 400 million euros.
- To be managed by COFIDES, which was created as the Spanish DFI
- public management company (although 47% of equity is private)
- Specialised in the management of State funds for different public policy purposes.
- an entity with € 6 billion assets directly managed and advised.
- pioneer in Spain (since 2001) in ESG-responsible investing with some flagship projects, like the Huruma Fund, structured and funded in collaboration with AECID.
- accredited by the UN and the EU to manage their resources.
- efficient institution with excellent financial record, etc.
- FIS is funded by the Spanish Budget under the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan (or PRTR) with resources from the EU Next Gen mechanism. This implies:
- FIS will mostly provide equity and loans, but not grants
- Investments must be deployed before mid-2026 unless this end date is postponed.
- Amount deployed before that date will be revolving è
- Therefore, it is in the interest of all those eventual investments be good investments.
- FIS will count with a small dedicated technical assistance facility to complement reimbursable financing when needed. This facility will be used to strengthen some of the sector’s chronic weaknesses in terms of, for instance:
- Measuring and managing impact
- Managing the financial instruments themselves strengthening intermediaries or end beneficiaries
FIS will be deployed through the following instruments:
- Equity participations in impact investment funds (including both equity and debt funds). The objective is to enable investment at all stages of maturity of social and environmental entrepreneurship projects, leveraging private sector resources at scale.
- Direct co-investments through equity or debt instruments on pari passu basis
Debt instruments, which may be of a concessional nature in duly justified cases, subject to the achievement of appropriate financial returns.
In a nutshell, FIS seeks to:
- address social and environmental neglected challenges.
- strengthen the social and environmental impact investment ecosystem in Spain
- reinforce the consolidation of the so-called “companies with a purpose” (as they are recognized by the Spanish legislation; for instance, the so-called Benefit and Common Interest Companies, or SBIC).
- mobilise additional private resources to a sector that, for various reasons, is underserved and too often left out of the traditional financial circuits.
- facilitate the design of new financial instruments adapted to the unique reality of the social economy capable of, by re-risking the position of all participants, turning feasible investments that traditionally were not.
FIS IN THE CONTEXT OF SPANISH PUBLIC POLICY PRIORITIES
Strategically, FIS is part and parcel of the overall public policy agenda of the Spanish Government:
- Searches to reach sectors at the bottom of the pyramid by supporting bottom-up, financially sustainable solutions, to essential social and environmental problems.
- Aims to reduce social inequalities and to guarantee a level-playing field for vulnerable collectives of the Spanish society. In short, to promote the common good.
- FIS addresses two complementary dimensions:
- Reinforce the social entrepreneurship ecosystem by focusing on new initiatives, including start-ups.
- Support the sector with a wide variety of financial instruments:
- From equity investments to loans
- Either through intermediaries or directly to "purpose-driven" companies,
- Not necessarily recent or innovative enterprises or vehicles.
Given the fact that FIS is a part of the European Strategy called the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), FIS investments must address challenges as:
- Green transition.
- Digital transformation.
- Smart, sustainable, and inclusive growth with strong SMEs.
- Social and territorial cohesion.
- Health or
- Policies for the next generation, children, and youth, such as education and skills development.
- FIS represents not only the commitment of the Spanish Government to STRENTHENING THE WELFARE STATE by reaching the bottom of the pyramid….but a significant step forward in addressing critical issues through creative partnerships and forward-thinking policies.
- It is a much-needed instrument that fills a gap in the current Spanish ecosystem for impact investment and will contribute to strengthen its different stakeholders.
- COFIDES, as manager of the Fund, is fully committed to make this public initiative successful.
- COFIDES is working hard on its preparation, and our expectation is that the Fund will become fully operational at the end of this year or in the first quarter of 2024. In any case, we are already building a pipeline of potential investment operations to be financed and invite those of you interested in FIS to contact COFIDES colleagues to co-create proposals that could be eligible for financing.
TO CONCLUDE…SOME MESSAGES
For now, and for the rest of the Summit, let all of us take advantage of the opportunity of been in Malaga to:
- Reflect on the importance of our shared mission,
- Share ideas and good practices,
- Think “out of the box” and be open to learn about disruptive ideas, and
- Be proud about the potential impact we can make as we navigate the complex landscape of social and environmental challenges.
Thank you all for listening about FIS and COFIDES and thanks for your dedication and commitment to the important causes that bind all of us together.
Because I am convinced that together, we can and we will make a positive difference in the world.
And something no less important…Enjoy Andalucía!!!