The model has been under development since mid-2010 and is based on the Five Capitals model developed by Forum for the Future, a leading sustainability NGO that works with the business community. The five capitals are finance, people, social/community, infrastructure and environment, to which Actis has added a sixth, namely governance. The firm has also worked with Forum and Imperial College to test and improve the model.
“Actis believes the capital it invests in the emerging markets should be transformational for society. This model enables that wider impact to be properly measured and adjusted, and helps us to measure the non-financial drivers of market value. The Impact Model will help to build value in our portfolio companies that is meaningful and increases the financial worth of each company,” explains Torbjorn Caesar, co-head Energy at the firm.
The Impact Model requires Actis and the management of its investee companies to score each investment twice a year on up to 63 criteria, both quantitative and qualitative. For example, under the category of Environment, a quantitative criterion would be GHG Emission, which is assessed by measuring distribution losses as a percentage of energy dispatched, while a qualitative criterion would be the Impact on Land rated on a scale of 1 to 5. The results can then used for benchmarking, annual planning, target setting and review by both Actis and the investee company’s executive team. The model can also be used as part of the initial investment decision.
“From our work with leading companies, we know that hardwiring sustainability into management processes (such as impact indicators) is a critical element in making that part of everything the business does,” notes Jonathon Porritt at Forum for the Future.
Initially, Actis will apply the model to all its energy investments, which may well result in further refinement of the metrics. The Impact Model is structured so that individual indicators can be changed and improved over time without disrupting the core of the model. The firm is confident that measuring the impact of its investments will drive long-term sustainable value, and has developed a similar framework to assess the non financial value drivers of its other investments, but the ultimate ambition is for the private equity industry more widely to take it up.
“Offering the Impact Model to other private equity firms to adopt is a brilliant act of leadership. Pioneering companies realise that their success relies on many others,” says orritt. “Actis can help the private equity industry shed some of its negative reputation, and open up the prospect of a private equity sector that directs its undoubted dynamism at generating returns from sustainable activities.”