Investment firm Heritas Capital has announced the successful first close of Asia Impact First Fund (AIFF) with $20 million in total commitment. The round was anchored by DBS, which committed $10 million.
The fund was also supported by like-minded impact-focused family offices, foundations, corporates and high-net-worth individuals like Tsao Family Office, IMC Group, Ishk Tolaram Foundation, ANF Family Office, Mr Pang Sze Khai (Chairman of Octava Foundation and Octava Pte Ltd), and others.
“There’s a heightened need to cultivate a strong ecosystem to support their growth – and through the AIFF, we hope to bring together like-minded partners who share our desire to empower more of these innovative and meaningful businesses, and enable them to thrive, scale, and go on to create greater positive impact,” said Karen Ngui, DBS Strategic Marketing and Communications and Board Member of DBS Foundation.
Launched in August 2022, AIFF has an investment mandate to support innovative and high-growth social enterprises in the region as it targets to reach a fund size of $50 million and expects to provide catalytic growth capital to 10 to 15 social enterprises in Asia.
These social enterprises demonstrated social and/or environmental impact in the fund’s impact themes – “Improving Lives and Livelihoods” and “Protecting the Environment” – as well as viable business growth plans to scale their double bottom-line of impact and profitability.
With its impact-first philosophy, the AIFF views returns not only through the lens of financial gain. It also prioritises long-term impact outcomes.
This allows the fund to take a patient stance when investing in social enterprises, in comparison with traditional financing options which prioritise short-term profitability metrices.
This kins of a patient catalytic capital is key in enabling social enterprises to thrive, since businesses that are pursuing dual bottom-lines require experimentation to develop innovative solutions, and often require a longer time-horizon to fulfil their potential.
DBS’ anchor investment in the AIFF is a reflection of its commitment to support social enterprises that are tackling pertinent social and environmental issues in Asia. It also marks the latest in the bank’s longstanding efforts to galvanise capital towards supporting the growth of this space.
To date many of DBS Private Bank’s clients have expressed their interest in being a force for good in society and a willingness to engage in venture philanthropy. At the same time, the bank sees the AIFF as a means through which they can contribute impact capital and take an active role in shaping the direction of their giving.
This is due to the emergence of next-generation business owners and impact investors, many of whom are actively seeking out giving and investment opportunities that align with their values and have a positive impact on society.
Lee Woon Shiu, Group Head of Wealth Planning, Family Office and Insurance Solutions at DBS Private Bank and DBS Foundation Board Member, said that through AIFF, clients can now have peace of mind that their money is going towards a carefully curated and stringent selection of social enterprises that will make the best of it to drive real impact, for the betterment of the society.
The AIFF is managed by Singapore-based impact investment platform Heritas Capital, and is tasked to accredit investors as it aims to achieve capital preservation and/or appreciation with a target internal rate of return of 5 to 10 percent.
DBS Foundation serves as its knowledge partner to provide in-depth expertise, a strong track record, and deep networks in its capacity as a leading champion in Asia’s social entrepreneurship scene.
In turn, the AIFF is set to benefit from the deep expertise of its Impact Advisory Panel, that consist of the following advisors: Helge Muenkel, Group Chief Sustainability Officer at DBS Bank; Dr Mary Ann Tsao, Chairwoman and Founding Director of the Tsao Foundation; Caroline Seow, Co-Founder and Director at B Lab Singapore; and Dr Loke Wai Chiong, Clinical Director and Program Lead at MOH Office for Healthcare Transformation.