“Redirecting Capital to Sustainable Investment” by Victoria Galeano and Jerry Haar

Published in the America Economia (March-April 2018), “Redirecting Capital to Sustainable Investment” discusses impact investing among Latin American businesses. To read this article in Spanish, click here

March – April 2018

 

Redirecting Capital to Sustainable Investment

Victoria Galeano and Jerry Haar

We are living at an unprecedented time in human history. Never before have consumers been so empowered to influence corporate behavior and firms’ impact on society and the environment. New market incentives driven by selective consumer groups such as millennials and women have begun to redirect capital towards enterprises the importance of being good corporate citizens.

To be a good corporate citizen is consonant with high standards of ESG (environmental, social, and governance). Many investors consider looking for ESG-oriented firms, believing they generate higher financial returns in the long term. More and more available information validates this correlation. For example, the Institute of Sustainable Investing’s extensive study of mutual funds found that sustainable investments in most cases equal or exceed the financial performance of traditional investments.

This has generated a search for sustainable investments and transactions of “green capital” and a proliferation of funds focused on sustainable investment. For example, the market for green equities reached a new historical record of over $200 billion in total issues in 2017. According to Bank of America, $21.4 trillion of global stocks embody ESG criteria.

There presently exist diverse strategies for selecting investments that incorporate ESG. In many funds, the selection process is based on monitoring sustainability indices. These indices compile a list of enterprises and score them based on ESG criteria. In the case of Latin America, the Inter-American Development Bank utilizes Index Americas, the first index to be launched by a multilateral development bank. Index Americas selects 100 enterprises that are both the most sustainable, and have the largest presence in the region.

It is noteworthy that the Latin American financial system has slowly embraced this worldwide tendency, and increasingly, pension funds and other investment funds are incorporating sustainability investments in their portfolios. The leading stock market in Brazil already has an index of corporate sustainability, and the stock markets in Argentina, Chile, and MILA (the integrated stock exchanges of Colombia, Chile, Mexico, and Peru) are in the process of developing similar criteria. At the same time, Latin American businesses are more and more cognizant of the importance of incorporating ESG in their operations. Firms such as FEMSA, Cemex, and Banco Itaú are industry leaders in attaining high standards of ESG.

These enterprises do not only allocate resources to improve their technological systems and internal processes but also invest in broadening their knowledge base of sustainability. In response to this need, various universities have incorporated sustainability into their MBA programs.

Attaining high standards of ESG brings multiple benefits to companies and helps firms achieve larger goals in many instances. Recognizably, however, the proliferation of rankings and standards requires significant resources in the generation of reports, scorecards, and audits. Additionally, obtaining results will invariably require the reconfiguration of internal processes or investment in costly equipment and technologies.

Nevertheless, enterprises that are able to integrate ESG principles in their business models and continually improve their sustainability are those that will be able to generate long-term economic benefits while engaging in behavior that is healthy and beneficial to people, the environment, and society at large.

 

Victoria Galeano is the founder and director of PRISSMA, a consultancy specializing in the financing of sustainable projects and products.

Jerry Haar is a business professor at Florida International University and a global fellow of the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.

“Redirigiendo Capital Hacia Inversiones Sostenibles” de Victoria Galeano y Jerry Haar

Publicado en la America Econmia (Marzo – Abril 2018), “Redirigiendo Capital Hacia Inversiones Sostenibles” comenta los beneficios de las inversiones sostenibles en empresas latinoamericanas. Para leer en inglés, clique aqui.

Marzo – Abril 2018
Redirigiendo Capital Hacia Inversiones Sostenibles 
Victoria Galeano y Jerry Haar

Estamos en un momento sin precedentes en la historia de la humanidad. Nunca antes el consumidor tuvo tanto poder en sus manos para intervenir en el comportamiento de las empresas y en su impacto en la sociedad y el medio ambiente. Los nuevos incentivos de mercado impulsados por grupos de consumidores más selectivos, como millennials y mujeres, poco a poco han comenzado a redirigir capital hacia empresas que entienden la importancia de ser buenos “ciudadanos corporativos”.

Ser un buen “ciudadano corporativo” implica tener altos estándares de ESG (ambientales, sociales y gobernanza). Muchos inversionistas consideran que estas empresas además generan retornos financieros más altos en el largo plazo. Cada vez hay más información disponible que comprueba esta correlación. Por ejemplo, el Instituto de “Sustainable Investing” después de un largo estudio de fondos mutuos, concluyó que las inversiones sustentables usualmente igualaban o excedían el desempeño financiero de aquellas tradicionales.

Esto ha generado una búsqueda por inversiones sostenibles y transacciones de capital “verde”, y una proliferación de fondos enfocados a las inversiones sostenibles. Por ejemplo, el mercado de bonos verdes alcanzó a principios de 2017 un nuevo récord histórico con US$ 200.000 millones en total de emisiones y, según Bank of America, aproximadamente US$ 21,4 trillones de activos globales consideran criterios ESG.

Existen diversas estrategias para seleccionar inversiones que incorporan factores ESG. En muchos fondos, el proceso de selección se basa en el monitoreo de índices de sostenibilidad. Estos índices construyen una lista de empresas de acuerdo con un sistema de puntajes que califica su desempeño en ESG. Para América Latina, recientemente, el Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (BID) lanzó IndexAmericas, el primer índice desarrollado por un Banco Multilateral de Desarrollo, que selecciona las 100 empresas más sostenibles y con mayor compromiso por la región.

El sistema financiero de América Latina se ha unido lentamente a esta tendencia mundial y cada vez más fondos de pensiones y otros fondos de inversión incorporan inversiones sostenibles. La bolsa de valores de Brasil ya tiene un índice de sostenibilidad corporativa, y las bolsas de Argentina, Chile y MILA están próximas a desarrollarlos. De igual manera, las empresas latinoamericanas son cada vez más conscientes de la importancia de incorporar factores ESG en sus operaciones.

Empresas como FEMSA, Cemex y Banco Itaú son líderes en sus industrias por sus estándares en ESG. Estas empresas no solo destinan recursos para mejorar sus sistemas tecnológicos y procesos internos, sino que también invierten en ampliar sus conocimientos en sostenibilidad. Como respuesta a esta necesidad, diversas universidades han incorporado, además, la sostenibilidad en sus programas de MBA. FIU, por ejemplo, en cooperación con el BID, está lanzando un “MBA de Impacto” bilingüe para América Latina con seis residencias en varios países, en el que se integra la sostenibilidad de manera medular en el currículo de MBA.

Aunque tener altos estándares en ESG trae múltiples beneficios a las empresas, también conlleva retos importantes. Por un lado, la proliferación de ránkings y estándares implica que las empresas ocupen muchos recursos en la generación de reportes, scorecards y auditorías. Por otro lado, obtener resultados puede implicar la reconversión de procesos internos o la inversión en equipo y tecnologías costosas. Sin embargo, las empresas que logran integrar principios de ESG dentro de su modelo de negocio y mejorar constantemente su desempeño en sostenibilidad son aquellas que logran generar beneficios económicos de largo plazo a partir de comportamientos cada vez más sanos hacia la sociedad y el medio ambiente.

Victoria Galeano es la fundadora y directora de PRISSMA, una empresa de consultoría para el financiamiento de proyectos y productos sustentables.

Jerry Haar es un profesor de negocios en Florida International University y Global Fellow del Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars en Washington, D.C.

Free Trade Zones and Counterfeit Goods

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and the Organization for Economic Co-opertaion and Development (OECD)’s recent report claims that free trade zones may be facilitating illegal activities, such as trade in counterfeit and pirated products, by providing good infrastructure with little oversight over its use.

Free Trade Zones (FTZs) encompass a broad range of activities, from tourism to retail sales. They typically represent duty-free customs areas, or offer benefits based on location, in a geographically limited space. Today, there are over 3,500 zones in 130 economies, collectively employing 66 million workers worldwide.

A number of benefits drive countries to embrace FTZs. In general, these areas increase a nation’s foreign exchange reserves and improve the balance of payments. On a local level, new supply chains increase business for domestic producers that sell inputs by zone-based firms. Finally, these areas provide jobs that bolster employment and, at least in developing countries, can lead to higher wages over time.

Apart from FTZ’s benefits to their host country at both a local and national level, there may also be economic exposure to criminal activities as a result of insufficient regulation. Research shows that the number of FTZs in an economy appears correlated with the value of exports of counterfeit and pirated products.

With less oversight, rogue actors are attracted to FTZs to engage in illegal and criminal trade. The OECD’s findings indicate that one additional FTZ within an economy increases counterfeiting by 5.9 percent on average. It also appears that FTZs tend to be overly permissive by letting companies get away with poor safety and health conditions. This limited oversight is particularly troubling when one considers the potential for exploitation in areas such as human trafficking.

The OECD and EUIPO both stress the need for future action to curb the misuse of FTZs. They recommend developing clear guidelines for countries to increase transparency and promote clean and fair trade in FTZs, based on the involvement of industry members and key stakeholder of the trade supply chain.

The organizations identify three areas for future analysis. The first is the measurement the role of FTZs in the trade of illicit and counterfeit goods. The next step requires a fuller quantitative analysis of counterfeit goods. Finally, further research needs to explore why counterfeit profiles differ from similar economies.

FTZs provide a number of advantages to economies, but without further regulation and research, they may induce heightened criminal activity. Both public and private actors must devise and apply strong deterrents to the establishment of criminal networks.

Michael Czinkota teaches international business and trade at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and the University of Kent. His key book (with Ilkka Ronkainen) is “International Marketing” (10th ed., CENGAGE).

Lisa Burgoa of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service contributed to this comment.

Today’s Spring Break

Today’s Spring Break

This spring, I wanted Michael Czinkota’s students to remember their “Marketing Across Borders” class while they traveled to azure beaches and Caribbean getaways. They were to connect their break experiences to some of the themes we have explored in class. Their responses offered an interesting – and illuminating – glimpse into how international marketing shapes the decisions of young travelers.

As digital natives, most of my students performed the research and planning for their trips online. Whether scoring cheaper flights or finding top restaurants, these young travelers turned to social media platforms and travel websites like AirBnb and TripAdvisor, to find affordable, and often all-inclusive, deals for hotels and flights. Students noted the power of word of mouth, which they far preferred over mass-market pamphlets, in guiding travel decisions. Much trust was placed in the reviews of peer travelers.

Much international travel was to Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Germany.

But even when my students ventured outside their comfort zones, they still encountered elements of the familiar. They noted the prevalence of Japanese manufactured cars, such as Toyota, in countries like Mexico and Jamaica. For food, they found a preponderance of American brands – like McDonalds and Starbucks – that were almost identical to those in Cincinnati, Ohio.

A student, involved in a social justice immersion trip to Jamaica, found international marketing to be an important tool in business development. She found billboards with emotional global brand messages: “Kakoo loves Pepsi!”; “Jamaica, land we love; Honda, car we love.” Many messages were targeted toward tourists and rendered in English rather than local languages.

In terms of favorite topics, many of my students’ broached food. There was a fascination with the globalization of food products. Students were delighted to taste the delicious meals of the world. “Food trends from around the world had penetrated the Costa Rican market: Breakfast places were serving cold brewed ice coffee, kombucha, acai bowls, avocado toast, and homemade vegan bread. Australians own the best taco joint in Tamarindo. A woman from Minnesota was the chef at a local breakfast café. Markets served poke bowls (sushi bowls from Hawaii), arepas (shredded beef sandwiches from Venezuela), and traditional French pastries.”

Students saw a choice of goods that were produced in the U.S. but tasted differently abroad. In the Dominican Republic, there were different taste versions of Coca Cola. Snacks of choice, such as Doritos, were sold at two different prices depending on whether they were sold in American or Mexican packaging. In Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, the point of sale changed in supermarkets. Oreos were sold alongside American cereals rather than in the cookie section!

All these observations contribute to a wider understanding of international marketing forces that shape tourism for young travelers today. Travel can be good – it gives more perspective, more context and more variety. Surely, there will be more alternatives and new experiences, which make life more meaningful, spicy and more interesting.

Michael Czinkota teaches international business and trade at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and the University of Kent. His key book (with Ilkka Ronkainen) is “International Marketing” (10th ed., CENGAGE).

Georgetown University students, Dina El-Saharty and Lisa Burgoa, contributed to this report.

Georgetown First Year Seminar

I am delighted to have Ing. Jaroslava Pokorna Jermanová, who is the governor of the Central Bohemia Region of Czech Republic to our seminar. It’s such an honor to listen to her insights and the students all learned a lot from yesterday’s session.

WechatIMG143unnamed WechatIMG142Brief Work profile:

      • November 2016 elected by the governor of the Central Bohemia Region from October 2016 the representative of the Central Bohemia Region for the YO 2011 movement
      • 2014 until now the representative of Benešov and from 2016 the city councilor
      • November 2013 until now the deputy chairman of the Chamber of Deputies
      • October 2013 until now Member of the Parliament of the Czech Republic
      • 2007-2008 employee of ROP Central Bohemia
      • 2004-2008 representative of the Central Bohemian Region for ODS
      • 2002-2006 Mayor Krhanic in Benesov

Over the years, she has been employed by several private companies including a family enterprise to produce furniture, and before 2014 she was an advertising and marketing executive. She also founded the Women’s Academy, which aims to attract more women into politics.