South Africa’s trade unions are up in arms about the imminent arrival of WalMart in the country (see “WalMart ‘not welcome’” ). The obvious concern is that the world’s largest retailer will put further pressure on local wages and small businesses. South Africa is still struggling with the effects of Apartheid-era labor and education policies plus shockwaves from the global economic crisis (see recent NYtimes article, “Wage Laws Squeeze South Africa’s Poor”) .
So what kind of investment does the country and the region need?
Sustainable Investing has ‘arrived’ and is offering a smart way to generate long-term returns while respecting and contributing to economic growth that works for people and doesn’t have negative consequences for the environment. (Learn more…)
What was once considered a ‘side-line’ has now grown in importance for two reasons: the rise of social and environmental consciousness – spurred by climate change urgency – and the fact that certain strategies for sustainable investing are proving they can consistently provide healthy returns. (Learn more…)
The same way ethical consumers can purchase products/services from socially and environmentally responsible companies, now investors, whether individual or institutional, can put their capital into ‘ethical’ portfolios and ‘green’ indices. To make things even more exciting, this SI wave has just crashed on the shores of Africa…
In July 2010, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) played host to the launch of AfricaSIF (African Sustainable Investment Forum), an independent, pan-African, not-for-profit network of investment practitioners. AfricaSIF aims to encourage the finance and investment sectors of African countries to advance sustainable development through integrating ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) factors into their investment decisions.
But this is not entirely new territory for Africa or South Africa, more specifically. In 2004 the JSE launched their SRI (Socially Responsible Investment) Index, which includes companies based on their triple bottom line performance.
Since then the operating environment has changed and the demand for responsible investment has grown substantially. In September 2009 the JSE started to provide live values of the SRI Index to the trading screens of thousands of investors worldwide, increasing visiblity and transparency (Learn more… ), and November 2009 brought the launch of Africa’s first sustainable investment fund by Sustainable Capital, an asset manager based in Mauritius.