Leading names in India’s business world, including the CEO of energy giant Tata Power and the president of Microsoft India, are involved in a new group seeking to catalyse impact investment in the country.
The initiative, dubbed “Impact Future Project” (IFP), was announced this week at the Sankalp Forum, a series of annual events focused on accelerating the SDGs across the Global South.
IFP’s goal is to unlock $1trn towards the SDGs, said Amit Bhatia, founder of social enterprise Aspire Impact which has launched the group. Bhatia was formerly CEO of the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment and CEO of Knowledge Services at WNS Global Services, India’s first outsourcing company to list on the NYSE with a $1bn IPO. [Editor’s Note: not to be confused with his namesake, the chair of Swordfish Investments.]
IFP will seek to advance research, advocacy, education and collaboration on impact investment in the country, and have sub-groups looking at different impact sectors including, financial inclusion, education and renewables.
It includes over 150 of Indian business leaders including Anant Maheshwari, President of Microsoft India, Praveer Sinha, CEO of energy giant Tata Power and Vishakha Mulye, Executive Director of ICICI Bank – one of India’s “Big Four” banks. RI understands that the Indian government is also expected to support IFP and it has close ties with the India National Advisory Board for Impact Investment.
Speaking at the Sankalp Forum, Maheshwari, who will be co-chairing IFP’s healthcare sub-group, said access to quality healthcare was critical for the country and that “precision medicine” was the next frontier.
Sinha, also speaking at the Sankalp Forum, talked about Tata Power’s goal to be zero carbon by 2050. He said: “the power sector has a very important role to play especially in a country still using coal for power”.
Another focus of IFP will be on corporate reporting. There are moves in India on sustainability reporting standards, with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) this year extending a mandate to publish “Business Responsibility Reports” to the top 1,000 Indian companies following guidance from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. But, observers say these standards are less rigorous compared with other global standards.
Aspire Impact says with increasing scrutiny on sustainability standards “India must prepare to compete”.
In July, SEBI introduced mandatory stewardship principles and disclosures for investors contrasting with the ‘comply or explain’ approach commonly used for stewardship codes in other jurisdictions.