Responsible Funds, January 27: the round-up of ESG funds news

RI’s regular look at responsible funds news

Oxfam has partnered with Symbiotics, the asset manager, to launch The Small Enterprise Impact Investment Fund (SEIIF) targeting small and medium sized companies (SMEs) in developing countries with a dual social impact/financial return target. The fund is currently looking for seed investors and has a target of $100m after three years to be invested in a portfolio of debt and equity instruments. Oxfam said the fund would target the so-called ‘missing middle’, small businesses in Africa and Asia with limited funding and credit access to credit and not looked at by the existing microfinance asset class. The development charity will act as ‘impact adviser’ to the fund and focus on activities, which build women’s empowerment, job creation and food security.

CIMB-Principal Islamic Asset Management, the Malaysian-based Islamic fund venture of CIMB Group and Principal Global Investors, has gained approval to set up an operation in Ireland. The new office will run three Islamic UCITS compatible funds: the Islamic Global Emerging Markets Fund, the Islamic Asia-Pacific ex-Japan Fund and the Islamic ASEAN Equity Fund.

QPortfolios are a new set of ethically screened investment fund packages managed by fund firm King & Shaxson which are run on Quaker principles. They were launched last year are the brainchild of Alan Kirkham, the co-founder of the Ethical Investment Co-op and Investing Ethically. QPortfolios’ scheme manager is Wayne Bishop, head of ethical funds at King & Shaxson.

Islamic funds firm Tebyan Asset Management has launched its first Shari’ah fund focusing on the CHIME (China, India, and Middle East) regions. The fund will be benchmarked against the new Dow Jones Islamic Market CHIME Index. Link

Canada-based GreenSoil Investments has launched a new fund focused on Israeli agriculture and food technology companies. Greensoil I Investment Fund L.P. will invest in firms whose innovations “help the world feed its population with less water and less arable land”. GreenSoil has completed its first closing and expects the final closing of the first partnership of the fund within six months. Link*Eight19 Ltd, the solar firm named* after the time it takes sunlight to reach the Earth – 8 minutes and 19 seconds – has launched the KickStart Sustainable Energy Fund for off-grid solar lighting in East Africa. The fund was launched at the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) last week and will benefit from a $200,000 grant from SolarAid to cover the first 4000 lighting systems to be deployed in Kenya in early 2012, reports Renewable Energy Focus.

Sarona Asset Management, the developing markets sustainability manager based in Waterloo, Canada, and Amsterdam in The Netherlands, has completed commitments into three funds, a private equity fund in India and two global financial services funds. Its Sarona Frontier Markets Fund 1 LP has allocated $2m to Ventureast Fund III LP, a private equity fund that invests in small and mid-market companies in India with a focus on the healthcare, clean technology and agribusiness sectors. The firm’s MEDA Sarona Risk Capital Fund has committed $1.5m Women’s World Banking (WWB) Isis I LP Fund, and $250,000 to MicroVest+ Plus Fund LP.

Azure Partners, the Swiss boutique, has launched the Azure Global Microfinance fund, which it says will invest primarily in microfinance debt private equity offerings based on short-term loans.

MicroRate, the Luxembourg-based microfinance rating agency supported by LuxFLAG and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, has launched a new website covering funds in the sector. The beta version of the site, called Luminis, has basic profiles on over 80 microfinance investment vehicles (MIVs). Link

Investors Group, the Canadian fund firm that’s part of Toronto-listed IGM Financial, is to merge its Summa Global Environmental Leaders fund into its Summa Global SRI as part of a wider fund consolidation aimed at improving efficiency and promoting “more comprehensive investment mandates”. Announcement

US asset management firm GAMCO is considering a European version (SICAV) of its high conviction Gabelli Focus Five fund, according to reports. Citywire, citing senior portfolio manager Dan Miller, said the fund could comprise 20-25 stocks.