RBN is an acronym for Renewable by Nature and they are a Specialist Impact Fund Manager and Advisor based in South Africa that develops and manages innovative financing solutions for many of our socio-economic and environmental challenges. Through the development, structuring and management of innovative impact solutions across the South African Development Community (SADC), RBN purposefully focuses on investments into economically sustainable businesses and projects that simultaneously drive inclusive growth across the region.
A key consideration to RBN entering the partnership, was Sasfin’s approach to enabling an entire ecosystem that supports SME business growth. In this view, credit is essential, but so are digital solutions that transcend the current operating environment. Sasfin has already set out its intention as a purpose-led organisation over the last few years, by providing credit facilities for SMEs that struggled to access credit. In early November 2020, it became the first bank in the world to receive the Nasira guarantee provided by the European Union. It obtained a R390 million funding line and a R600 million portfolio guarantee facility from FMO, the Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank, to offer loans to women, youth and Covid-19 impacted businesses.
Within the context of attaining the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP), it is widely acknowledged that the majority of financing needs to come from the private sector if the required scale to reduce unemployment, poverty and income inequality as well as solve for environmental degradation is to be achieved. Africa is the region with the most significant investment gap to achieve the SDGs, estimated to be $1.2 trillion per annum (SDG Centre for Africa, 2017). RBN possesses deep knowledge and experience that can harness the challenge of delivering solutions to meet the pressing SDGs with a strategic vision of how challenges can convert to sustainable investment opportunities. Fundamental to this approach is an understanding that impact investing strategies are intrinsically collaborative, as all countries - developed and developing - unite in a global partnership. They recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health, the environment and education, reduce inequality, and spur inclusive economic growth.
There is increasing demand from asset owners to seek investment solutions that contribute to a measurable social, economic or environmental impact, alongside financial returns. Investing for impact together with financial returns offers clients a holistic way in which to invest responsibly and sustainably. These investment strategies have the potential to address some of our most pressing challenges: economic inequality, job creation, poverty and conserving our natural resources.
RBN is widely seen as the pioneers of integrating global impact standards and measurement metrics in Southern Africa, attracting concessional funding from a combination of government and Development Finance Institutions (DFI) in different fund structures. This has ensured they have been able to unlock private capital for productive use and actual returns at scale - thereby targeting systemic change, which has won them a number of awards for exceeding fundraising and job creation targets.
RBN’s management team has extensive experience and a track record of excellence in structuring and managing funds in excess of R2bn that included two Jobs Fund grants totaling R175m, successfully delivering over 15 000 permanent, decent and verified jobs over six years. This track record provides the assurance that the investment is not only in good hands but lies with an impact investor that has a proven record in making a genuine difference.
In collaboration with RBN, Sasfin Asset Managers will deliver a unique offering to existing and new investors. The impact fund(s) will be credit funds that feed into investor’s appetite for investing in socially and environmentally sustainable initiatives, which is a trend seen throughout global investment markets. At the same time be instrumental in the all-important creation of jobs in our country. This partnership is a key part in Sasfin continuing to deliver on its purpose statement in contributing to society, by enabling the growth of the businesses and global wealth of our clients, and therefore making a meaningful and sustainable impact in our country. We are in the preparatory stages of developing the first fund and will announce more details in the upcoming months.
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