In an online conference attended by more than 150 people on 15 January 2021, churches across the world explored how they can contribute to faith-driven and impactful investing.
The event, titled Faith-Driven Investing: Walk the Talk, is part of the 4th International Faith-Based Investment Conference, which this year is split into regional online sessions.
How we allocate resources – capital, human and natural – to achieve the best impact on development has become even more important in the context of COVID-19.
The conference explored issues and shared experiences of successful and challenging investment projects, strengthened impactful cooperation between faith partners and investors, and presented tools to make projects investable.
The event was organized by the Geneva Agape Foundation and co-hosted by the World Council of Churches (WCC), FaithInvest, and the World Evangelical Alliance’s Business Coalition.
While today's meeting focused on Africa and Europe, a similar event is being planned with a focus on Asia for 5 March 2021.
In his welcome address, Prof. Dr Christoph Stückelberger, Executive Director of the Geneva Agape Foundation, talked about innovative approaches to investments in which faith-driven organisations are partners.
Nana Francois, FaithInvest Director of Membership, said the focus of the conference, even in this time of pandemic and extreme crisis, was to examine practically what we could do to improve the wellbeing of people and planet.
'There is still a huge amount of untapped potential in terms of assets which could be allocated towards a better people and planet,' she said. 'Many of us are already walking the talk but there's still a lot to be done – there's still a lot to be done to make it normal for investors to invest in a faith-based way and for the impact that you are making to be just as important as the financial returns that you are generating.'
Panel discussions focused on the impact of faith-driven investing in and after the coronavirus pandemic.
Anis Ashgar, investor, Oikosinvest Foundation, said: “Almost all investors ask: What happened to my investment? People just no longer want to invest in what they don’t like – it’s not just about investor return, but also social return. The Sustainable Development Goals are important, and impacts are better measured nowadays. New markets emerging are more aware and more impact-driven.”
Nkatha Njeru, coordinator for the African Christian Health Association Platform, offered insights on the needs, risks and opportunities of health projects. “The best about faith-based organizations is that they can reach rural areas with information, for instance regarding the risks of congregating in churches. Faith-based organizations can work together with church leaders to create an understanding about other ways of worshipping in times of a pandemic.”
Bruno Bobone, new president of UNIAPAC, an international network of Christian business executives, spoke about the contribution of Christian entrepreneurs for faith-driven investments with focus on Africa. “Youth and growth are the two important assets in Africa where we will find opportunities,” he said. “We have to work long-term and guarantee the sustainability of our investments. Most important, to show in practical ways that we believe in working that way, and that we belong to the society that we invest in. It is both about creating wealth and distributing it fairly."
Roland Schatz, CEO, UNGSII Foundation and president of the Geneva Agape Foundation, shared with Günter Nocke of the German Ministry for Development how the German government is cooperating with faith-driven investing: “If we are not successful in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, we will lose all credibility. We have the tools, so let’s do it!”
The conference also featured reflections on the area of interest rates, equities, grants, and governance, as well as principles and praxis in Islamic, Hindu and interfaith investments. Concrete investment opportunities with churches and other faith groups have been identified in six sectors: health, education, real estate, agro-food and water, renewable energy and climate and financial sector.
The event was closed with the sharing of good practices.
For more information, please contact:
Marianne Ejdersten, WCC director of communication Cell Phone +41 79 507 63 63 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Susie Weldon, FaithInvest head of communication Phone +44 797 0466 830 Email: email@example.com
Christoph Stückelberger, Geneva Agape Foundation Phone: +41 79 419 68 12 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
More information on the event: https://gafoundation.world/en/conference/conference-2021