Impact Investing in Asia

Asia has felt so far away but is less new to me now. With the help of family, friends, and gracious hosts, I learned tremendously. I breathed in secondhand smoking, met my mentors at the Asia Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN), ate Ya Kun Kaya Toast, met with friends from Temasek a sustainability fund, and went surfing with family friends. Here is what I learned:

Asia is complex. The impact investing ecosystem is still at its early stage. The government is allocating capital through green bonds or lending mechanisms, but there are only a handful of investors or family offices devoted to the field. Korea has an advantage of its thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem and growing corporate and government initiatives, but from what I learned, Hong Kong and Singapore may need more pioneers to build upon the existing ecosystem and contribute to a cultural shift.

I thought I could be helpful with my experiences in the U.S., but I ultimately felt like taking language from the States perhaps is not the most effective, as they reflect a more Western mainstream attitudinal approach. Network or platform based country-specific initiatives were more effective in attracting private investors, banks, and policymakers for long-term sectoral engagement.

With the protest happening, I kept thinking these populist trends in ethnic, political, or religious divides draw parallel to other countries and trickle down to the Southeast Asian market. Impact investing began after the financial crises that it did not ride with the plunge. Institutionalizing impact investing across asset classes also translate to asset diversification effectively hedging geopolitical and environmental risk for long-term value creation. I’m so grateful for the insight and advice and for new friends who fiercely pioneered through the Asian market.

Investments with Political Vehicles

(Originally written: 10.12.2018)

American leadership promotes of governance, democracy, human rights, and global stability. How does this translate into social investments overseas?

Businesses consult political risk, such as power structure and roots of political legitimacy, to make decisions on overseas investments. Democracy, which involves social systems, tax laws, and a regulatory environment, enables a positive, sustainable, and local growth for social enterprises.

Economic growth often provides legitimacy to dictatorship, but democracy provides a stable political environment, with less corruption or government seizures of business. Therefore, it protects financial return with the discipline of the market by supporting our key allies under diplomatic turmoil.

For instance, India is an economically independent country with aims to enhance its strategic space and capacity for independent agency. If the objective of bilateral economic engagement is to accelerate the integration of the two economies, only a resolute defense of the free market with an open focus on increasing FDI – would allow it to overcome its vast development deficits to liberalize the economy while strengthening state capacity.

India can increase the use of digital payments and support digital finance technology projects to not only scale its technologies, but strengthen its resilience.

The most important task in strategic logic of each bilateral relations is the success of the affiliation, and how its benefits are to be conceived. Especially in a country where geopolitical rivalry coexists with economic interdependence.

Investment readiness remains a key issue for ventures. It requires understanding of risk and how to price it. Transaction and reporting requirements can be quite high. By opening up the private capital to solve difficult foreign policy challenges fundamentally guide critical capacity building and equip allies to support strategic priorities. Therein, it responds to on-the-ground conditions targeting specific vulnerabilities for sustainable and scalable growth of enterprises. I hope we can provide a role in development – the social impact investment ecosystem – to create liquidity in the market incentivizing a genuine strategic partnership with deep-rooted shared interests.