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Ex-PRI Executive Director Gifford joins supply chain-focused venture firm

Joins advisory board at Tau Investment Management

James Gifford, the former Executive Director at the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), has been named Senior Strategic Advisor at Tau Investment Management, a new venture investment firm that aims to remedy global supply chain problems.

Tau, which was founded in 2012, invests directly in “unsustainable” suppliers to turn them around. It is headed by Oliver Niedermaier, a former senior executive at Australia-listed investor services firm Computershare who went on to found and head communications holdings company King Worldwide.
Niedermaier and Gifford were both named Young Global Leaders by the World Economic Forum in 2010.
Gifford, who left the PRI at the end of last year, said: “So much of what we hear about the apparel industry in developing countries is negative. Tau’s vision is a positive solution to one of the most intractable problems in the global economy.”

He is also taking up a position as Senior Research Fellow at the Initiative for Responsible Investment at the Harvard Kennedy School, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he will research sustainable private equity in developing countries. He is also a guest lecturer at Imperial College London and Trisakti University Jakarta.New York-based Tau this week announced it received strategic investments from the Global Emerging Markets Group (GEM), the $3.4bn private equity firm, and Alexander Soros, the son of billionaire financier and philanthropist George Soros. Neither Tau nor GEM are currently listed as PRI signatories.

Tau’s advisory board includes Terry Mollner, the co-founder of SRI investor Calvert who now chairs StakeHolders Capital, Bruce Klatsky, former CEO of apparel company PVH and Brett House, a former advisor to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.

GEM Founder Chris Brown said Tau’s business model was “among the most innovative I have seen in the last 20 years”. Tau and GEM are currently evaluating a number of potential targets for co- investment.
Among GEM’s other recent investments are US adult retailers Christal’s and Peekay, pawnshop operator Pawn Plus and model agency Elite. It also has minority stakes in Australia-listed mining firm Kazakhstan Potash, zero-emission carmaker Mindset Holding and Dutch sportscar firm Spyker. Tau home page

James Gifford is speaking at RI Asia 2014, Tokyo, 5-6 March.