WRI’s New Ventures project identifies, mentors, and provides small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with access to investment. New Ventures operates in five of the world’s most vibrant emerging economies – Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, and Mexico – where current business and development trends will impact the entire world. In 2007, New Ventures Mexico launched an independent institution – Centro de Negocios Sustentables. With a $400,000 grant from Mexico’s Ministry of Economics, the Center, the first of its kind in Mexico, provides sustainable SMEs with a wide range of services from business acceleration and incubation to market access through the Green Pages. Since its founding, New Ventures has provided comprehensive support to over 150 entrepreneurs and facilitated $38 million in investments for sustainable companies.
small and medium enterprise (SME)
WRI’s New Ventures project identifies, mentors, and provides small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with access to investment. New Ventures operates in six of the world’s most vibrant emerging economies – Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, and Mexico – where the environment and development decisions being made today will impact the entire world, and where the private sector, particularly SMEs, is driving economic growth.
This year, the full New Ventures portfolio grew to 180 enterprises and facilitated the transfer of $158 million from angel investors, banks, green funds, venture capital funds, and development banks to SMEs that are protecting the environment and delivering economic growth.
One shining example is Beijing Shenwu, a manufacturer of energy efficient industrial furnaces that uses a new recycled combustion air technology to reduce energy consumption by as much as 60% and decrease CO2 emissions by at least 30%. Deployment of the system in the Chinese steel industry has reduced that country’s annual industrial energy consumption by the equivalent of 2.09 million tons of coal, thus cutting CO2 emissions by over 11.72 million metric tons a year. It is a critical feat given that China and the U.S. are the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters.
The Asian Development Bank was established in 1966 to help its forty eight developing member countries reduce poverty and improve the quality of life of their citizens. In 2009, the Bank launched a new program of technical assistance to encourage the growth of small- and medium-enterprises (SMEs) in India and Indonesia that provide environmental and social benefits.
Ella Delio works in WRI’s New Ventures project, which promotes business solutions that align the need for sound financial returns with environmental and social goals. She and her team were the Bank’s primary advisors in developing the new program. “SMEs,” Delio explains, “are the engines of equitable economic growth in emerging market nations. Accounting for an average of 34% of the GDP and employing in excess of 60% of the labor force, SMEs are great sources of innovation and often provide strong linkages to poor communities. They have the capacity to transform the economic development paradigm by delivering business models that are pro-poor and pro-environment.”
Sustainably-focused small and medium enterprises (SMEs) manufacture and market environmentally friendly products and serve low-income communities. Not only do they create jobs and spur economic growth, but they also provide models for the businesses of the future, those that will thrive in a low-carbon, resource constrained world. The Global Impact Investing Rating System (GIIRS), used by investors worldwide to evaluate SME’s in developing countries, has adopted environmental criteria, thus raising the visibility of environmentally-focused businesses in emerging markets.
GIIRS is a standardized rating system that generates an easily digestible single value for scoring an emerging market SME and/or impact investment fund. Investment funds obtain a calculated GIIRS score based on the ratings of the portfolio of companies they invest in and the operations of the fund manager. GIIRS is crucial to the growth of the impact investing industry as it makes impact measurement accessible much like the Lipper or Morningstar ratings did for the mutual fund industry.
WRI’s New Ventures team persuaded the GIIRS managers to embed key environmental metrics into the ratings system in part through its position as the environmental expert on the GIIRS emerging markets standards advisory committee. By August 2010 eleven leading emerging market fund managers agreed to use the GIIRS rating system in their investment decision-making. Collectively, they have raised around US$1 billion to invest in high impact GIIRS-rated enterprises. These GIIRS “Pioneer Funds” will be pilot testing GIIRS with their portfolio companies throughout the developing world. Additionally, it has been adopted as the standard all companies and funds must reach to participate in the socially responsible angel network Investor’s Circle.
Labeled the “queen of the forest” for its size and beauty, the Brazil nut tree plays an important social and environmental role in the Amazon. During the annual harvest, from November to March, when both its seeds and nuts are collected, the tree also provides a critical supplementary source of income for communities across the region.
While other natural resource management activities risk increasing deforestation in the Amazon, nut harvesting is not harmful to nature, since it depends on the forest’s continued existence. Local company Ouro Verde was created with this in mind, selling Brazil nut products marketed as sustainable, including extra virgin nut oil, nut butter and granulate. Ouro Verde created 47 jobs, and many more new business opportunities in the Amazon region, placing an economic value on the rainforest for local communities. About 1.3 million hectares of rain forest are sustainably managed by Ouro Verde supplier partners.
Ouro Verde is a shining example of the type of company WRI’s New Ventures project was created to support. Founded in 1999, New Ventures identifies, mentors, and provides promising small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with access to investment. New Ventures supports companies in six rapidly growing emerging markets – Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, and Mexico – where the environment and development decisions being made today will impact the entire world. To date, we have facilitated more than $225 million in investment and worked with 346 innovative enterprises.
In 2010, SMEs supported by New Ventures reduced CO2 by 135,021 tons, the equivalent of removing over 112,000 cars from the road for one year. In addition, 1,490,448 hectares of land – an area larger than Connecticut - was placed under sustainable management by New Ventures companies or was conserved by sustainable land use companies in the New Ventures portfolio.
Voices of the Entrepreneurs
“Voices of the Entrepreneurs” is both a celebration of what New Ventures has achieved so far and a springboard to its future. This report highlights the experience of 32 New Ventures entrepreneurs and provides valuable insights into the challenges that hinder the growth of environmental...
This piece originally appeared on the New Ventures website. It was written with New Ventures intern Kevin Short.
The 2011 New Ventures China Investor Forum showcased the potential of environmental entrepreneurship on a larger scale than any previous forum in the program’s eight years of operations in China.
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