40 global investors launch inclusive and responsible finance principles

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THE HAGUE, 27 January 2011 – A group of 40 global investors have become the first to sign the Principles for Investors in Inclusive Finance. The principles have been formally launched today at the Responsible Finance Forum, hosted by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague, the Netherlands.

Principles for Investors in Inclusive Finance is the initiative of a core group of investors and Her Royal Highness Princess Máxima, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development. The group developed the Principles together with the United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and in consultation with Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) and several key industry players.

The past ten years have witnessed a significant growth in financial services offered to the world’s poor. Signatories to the Principles acknowledge that poorer clients are often disadvantaged by asymmetries in financial knowledge, power, and influence. By signing the principles, investors state their commitment to fair treatment and protection of the interests of the ultimate client in inclusive finance—low-income households and small and medium-enterprises. Signatories assert their goal of supporting and investing in those financial service institutions that offer responsible micro-finance, including a wide range of quality services to clients. They embrace transparency and sustainability.

The Principles will go into effect at the moment of signing. The signatories commit themselves to promoting them in the market and among peer networks in order to build global awareness, gain additional signatories and create a culture where adherence to the Principles is the norm. The Principles are aligned with a larger body of international frameworks guiding the actions of financial institutions worldwide. This alignment takes further shape by housing these principles with Principles for Responsible Investment.

James Gifford, Executive Director of Principles for Responsible Investment, said

“Micro investments are one of the most important mechanisms to help us achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals. Principles for Investors in Inclusive Finance make an important first step to mainstream microfinance in a way that safeguards all stakeholder interests.”

Else Bos, Deputy Chair of the Executive Committee at PGGM, said

“Signing the Principles will guide responsible institutional investors when investing in inclusive finance. It will also help to clarify their rationale for investing in this asset class: expect market rate but not excessive returns through (indirect) investments in sustainable microfinance institutions that put the wellbeing of the ultimate client first.”

Marilou van Golstein Brouwers, Managing Director Triodos Investment Management BV, said

“Inclusive finance has a fundamental impact on the lives of millions of people. Today a group of aligned investors sign up to principles that protect their interests. Together they are committing to the creation of inclusive financial sectors that improve lives by providing transparent, financial services in a responsible way. We hope many more will follow their lead.”

About the Principles for Investors in Inclusive Finance

The Principles for Investors in Inclusive Finance are signed by direct investors or fund managers and institutional investors investing via designated funds. The first signatories are:

Accion Investments in Microfinance, Achmea, APG, Bamboo Finance, Blue Orchard Finance, Blue Orchard Investments, Calvert Foundation, Caspian Advisors, Cordaid, Developing World Markets, Dutch Microfund, FMO, Finance-in-Motion, Goodwell Investments, Grassroots Capital Management, Incofin Investment Management, Leger des Heils, Microvest Capital Management, Minlam Asset Management, MN Services, Municipality of Eindhoven, Nedlloyd Pension Fund, Norwegian Microfinance Initiative (NMI), Oikocredit, Pensioenfonds Vervoer, Pensioenfonds Zorg en Welzijn (PFZW), Pensionfund of the Ministers in the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, PGGM, PMA, PNO Media, Reaal, responsAbility Social Investments, Sarona, SNS Asset Management, SPF Beheer, Stichting Pensioenfonds SNS Reaal, Symbiotics, TIAA-CREF, Triodos Investment Management, and Triple Jump.

 For more information contact PRI communications on ++ 44 (0) 207 495 5145 or comms@unpri.org.

About Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI)

Principles for Responsible Investment, an investor-led initiative convened by UNEP FI and the UN Global Compact, was established to help investors achieve better long- term investment returns and sustainable markets through improved analysis of environmental, social and governance issues. The Initiative has over 870 signatories from 45 countries with more than US$ 25 trillion of assets under management. www.unpri.org