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At the IDB, we believe that together we can go farther. Our partnership network is making positive differences in Latin America and the Caribbean every day, and this blog is our channel for telling that story. Stay tuned for literature on partnership perspectives, stories from the field, changing trends, outlooks for development and the region, information on ways and opportunities to partner, and more. Thanks for stopping by.
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Why Do Good When You Can Do Super? A Chat with Australia’s Champion Impact Investor

By - Feb 12 2015

Christian Super smallWhen it comes to accelerating development in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), would you rather do it well? Or do it super well? Looking to harness impact investing to make the biggest impact possible in the region, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group is striving for the latter. Extending its partnership network to down under, the IDB has teamed up with Australian firm Christian Super, a faith-based pension fund that combines responsible financial and biblical principles to achieve ethical, social and environmental returns on investment. Hear what Christian Super’s Chief Investment Officer has to say about the unique fund, Australia’s growing impact investing ecosystem, and the potential  he sees in LAC.

Q. Superannu…what?

A. Superannuation (or a pension plan) is a means for employees to save for retirement by contributing a portion of their salary or wage to a superannuation fund, which then invests on their behalf. In Australia, the minimum contribution is mandated by government and is compulsory for employees.

Christian Super was formed in 1984 as a superannuation fund for employees jn independent Christian schools throughout Australia. Since then, Christian Super membership has expanded to include other sectors, and is open to the public but the term “Christian” remains in our title in order to reflect our members’ Christian values (which are our own) in all our investments.

Q. How have faith-based organizations helped drive impact investing?

A. One of the core Christian values is to take care of the weak and vulnerable. Making investments that both improve the welfare of the people at the Base of the Pyramid, and empower them to pursue their life goals, aligns well with Christian investors, such as Christian Super. They aim to combine financial and biblical principles to make responsible and ethical investment decisions that achieve good investment returns but also have a measureable and tangible social and environmental impact. Such investors can easily understand the dual goal of impact investing and can be early adopters.

Q. Christian Super is among the pioneers in impact investing in Australia. How would you describe the impact investing ecosystem in Australia?

The impact investing ecosystem in Australia is definitely growing and gaining momentum, as seen through the increased participation by various stakeholders such as governments, non-profit organizations, and banks. With that said, it is still in its infancy.  Christian Super, however, has always been proactive and has been taping into already developed global ecosystems for some time now. Being a member of the Investors’ Council of the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) has been a very efficient way of achieving this. Such a strategy has paid off, resulting in a higher volume of better quality opportunities coming through GIIN members. For example, we first met the IDB through an IDB partnerships officer at the annual GIIN Investors’ Council meeting.

Q. Through Christian Super’s participation in the IDB’s loan to the higher education financing company Corporativo Laudex, the IDB is expanding its geographic reach, syndicating a loan for the first time with an Australian investor. Christian Super is also expanding its geographic reach in LAC through this loan, which will enable Laudex to reach 14,000 low-income students in Mexico by 2018.  Why LAC?

Christian Super is seeking to diversify its portfolio through new sources of yield that can achieve good risk adjusted returns.  The emerging consumer markets in LAC are great examples. However, we always want to find the best way to access these opportunities, and syndicated deals alongside other like-minded investors with a long track record in the region, such as the IDB, have helped us to get comfortable enough with the region to do our first direct lending deal.

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