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Our Asia trip: 1 conference, 5 presentations, 1 lecture & a day meeting key faith partners

Inspired, energised and challenged – that was how the FaithInvest team felt after a packed few days in Indonesia for TBN Asia's 2022 hybrid conference.

During our trip, we also spent a day on in-depth discussions with some of our key Asia-based faith partners and delivered a lecture on faith-consistent investing to the Islamic Banking School. And for the dynamic TBN Asia conference, we collectively delivered five presentations and took part in two pitch sessions, of which more below.

TBN Asia: 23-23 Sept 2022

This was our first time at a TBN Asia event and we were there to share our work on #FaithConsistentInvesting as well as to learn more from the many social entrepreneurs present. The event itself was buzzing throughout, with more than 500 participants (371 in person, 149 online), 65 speakers, 59 exhibitors, three pitch sessions and five impact trips.

The Transformational Business Network, which now has thousands of members and several hubs worldwide, brings together social entrepreneurs and impact investors, all with a shared mission to lift people out of poverty through enterprise. We heard some wonderful stories of successful projects with life-changing impact, ranging from education, environmental and social impact.

As TBN Asia's CEO Melvyn Mak said: ''This is a conference where we talk about what we do – but it's the values we bring to the table that are important.'

FaithInvest led one of the plenary sessions which looked at how increasing numbers of faith groups around the world are taking a values-driven approach to their investments. There was plenty of good news to share although FaithInvest CEO Martin Palmer told participants: 'You are way ahead of most of the major faith groups. You are already doing this, on the ground, motivated by your faith, and it's time the major faith groups caught up.'

The session also showed a presentation of the extraordinary work of Govardhan Eco-Village in India, and FaithInvest trustee Hayu Prabowo, who is Chair of Environment & Natural Resources, Islamic Scholars of Indonesia, shared his vision of the potential transformative impact of Green Wakfs as an alternative instrument for financing green or environmentally friendly projects. A wakf is a form of charitable endowment under Islamic law, often involving land or property, for benevolent purposes that cannot be reclaimed. 'The great thing about it is it's permanent,' he says.

FaithInvest's Director of Investment Solutions Mathew Jensen led a deep dive session on what faith-consistent investing means, which prompted much audience debate, and also took part in two pitch sessions where businesses presented their case for impact investment.

Key faith partners

We also used the opportunity of being in Indonesia to meet up with key faith partners including Buddhist, Hindu, Shinto, Catholic and Confucianist groups from Thailand, India, Japan and Indonesia (in-person) with others joining remotely from the Philippines, Japan, China and Sri Lanka.

'We had some absolutely fascinating discussions about what was needed to grow the faith-consistent investing movement, and the role that FaithInvest should play,' said Martin Palmer. 'Having launched FaithInvest just before the Covid19 pandemic, it was wonderful finally to be able to have these in-depth discussions with our Asia faith partners face-to-face.'

And separately, we met the senior leadership of Caritas Indonesia, the humanitarian agency of the Catholic Church and learned with fascination about their role in establishing credit unions across Indonesia from the 1970s onwards.

Islamic Banking School

Before the TBN Asia conference, Martin, Mathew and Hayu delivered a three-hour lecture and discussion on faith-consistent investing and impact investing at the Indonesia Banking School in Jakarta. More than 500 students attended, as well as government officials and key Muslim faith leaders, both in person and online.

Moderator Dr Marissa Grace Haque-Fawzi summed up FCI up as 'The three 'p's – people, planet, profit.' We couldn't have put it better ourselves.


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