For the fourth year in a row, VP Capital provides insight into their strategy for impact investing
Sustainable Progress Report 2022
Turnhout/Goirle 3 July 2023 - How can we, as a family-owned investment company, have a positive impact on people and on the planet? That is the central question on the minds of VP Capital, the family office of the Van Puijenbroek family. Guus van Puijenbroek, Director of VP Capital: "We believe investments should deliver more than just financial returns. That is why we have invested 49% of our capital in impact."
Since 2018, we have been following a sustainability strategy which, among other things, includes independently screening the ESG and impact performance of our approximately 600 direct and indirect investments every year. The results are shared transparently in our annual Progress Report.
Guus van Puijenbroek, Director Strategic & Family Matters VP Capital: "This is the fourth year we have published a Progress Report in which we transparently communicate about our targets, methodologies, results and shortcomings. This makes it easier for people to find us and also results in more impactful propositions coming our way."
In terms of impact investing, we have achieved a key target we had set ourselves – to have at least 45 per cent of our assets invested in impact by 2023. We are now at 49 per cent. We owe this primarily to the commitment and motivation of everyone at our companies as well as to the investments that helped us realise this strategy. In 2022, we refined our impact methodology in our textile and media domains. We also invested more in strong impact funds, such as Goodwell V, and in impact companies, such as BYBORRE. In the coming years, it is our goal to invest even more in impact companies and funds and, by doing so, to contribute to the transition to an impact economy.
Reaching this goal provides us with a firm foundation on which to continue growing. We do not consider this goal as an end point . Because a whole lot has changed since we first implemented our strategy in 2018. “Impact is becoming increasingly important in the world of investments. Women and young investors are accelerating this growth and are investing more and more of their capital in impact. Things are also moving on the supply side. We have noticed a strong increase in the number of impact funds, although few provide systemic innovation solutions. We do expect many more such funds to emerge in the coming years, and we are happy to be involved in those conversations.”
In 2022, we also launched a pilot with the Dutch Impact Institute. This project focused on true pricing in the agri-food sector. When we say “true pricing”, we mean quantifying our real impact and then putting a price on it. This was more difficult to calculate than we had expected. We were missing certain information for a benchmark, and it was difficult to scale 2 to other domains. Yet now, we have a better idea on which themes within the field of agrifood we want to focus: regenerative farming, agtech and biofertilizers.
2022 was a year of major milestones. After a thorough audit, we were awarded the B Corp label, an international certification that demonstrates we meet the highest standards in terms of social and environmental performance, transparency, and legal accountability. In addition, the Science Based Targets (SBT) initiative validated our science-based targets related to climate. The targets, which we are committed to achieving by 2030, correspond to the reductions needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals. One of our targets is for 53% of our direct and listed investments to set and commit to science-based targets themselves. Mediahuis, HAVEP, and Hydrowear are already working on this, and Batenburg Techniek will start working on their SBTs in 2023. And, Q-lite's SBTs have already been validated. Our current science-based targets will run until 2030, but we are considering participating in the Net Zero by 2050 targets.
We are also preparing for the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), a European directive that will soon require all large companies to report on their impacts on people and the environment. We are taking our first step toward it this year by changing the structure of our Progress Report to include key topics from the CSRD.
An important challenge in the near future will be to achieve a Progress Score of 8 out of 10 by 2023. This sounds like a simple goal, but it won't be easy. This year, the overall Progress Score rose to 7.6 out of 10. "It's an ambitious goal but, in our opinion, one that is still achievable. Our ESG management score has risen sharply in recent years. We are now mainly counting on our funds to put in even greater efforts. Further improving our impact score in the short term will be more difficult, as it takes a long time to transform a standard company into an impact company."
“We hope to increase our positive impact even more significantly, especially in the mid to long term. In the coming years, we will place even greater emphasis on restoring biodiversity. We are exploring whether and how to fund certain projects directly. For example, in 2022, we investigated a project on mangrove forests in Brazil. Whether or not we will continue with this is part of our new strategy for 2024-2028, which we will announce in December.”