City of Buenos Aires steals the show in global impact awards

Argentina’s capital city was the scene-stealer in this year’s GSG Impact Honors – as both the venue and the winner for the big global awards event last week.

Loud cheers and warm applause followed the announcement of the “home win” for the City of Buenos Aires, which scooped the award for Impact Market Builder of the Year.

This award is presented to a government body, policy think-tank or organisation that pushes thought-leadership in the impact sector or catalyses impact investment flows to solve social or environmental issues.

The judges were impressed by the city’s work to transform Barrio 31, one of the oldest and largest informal settlements in the city, into a formal, sustainable and vibrant neighbourhood.

“Your innovative approach to improvement in housing, infrastructure, education, healthcare and attracting businesses to the area – while keeping its culture alive – is an example to all,” Sir Ronald Cohen, the GSG Chair, told Diego Fernandez, Secretary of Social and Urban Integration at Buenos Aires City Government, who stepped forward to collect the trophy.

Two of the awards, Impact Market Builder and Impact Entrepreneur, were presented in partnership with Pioneers Post, whose founding editor Tim West was master of ceremonies for the presentations. The Impact Asset Owner and Institutional Investor awards were presented in partnership with Responsible Investor, while the GSG Millennial Honor was presented in partnership with the Aspen Development Network.

Raul Pomares, founder of San Francisco-based Sonen Capital, which took home the Impact Asset Manager award, said it was “recognition that underscores the value that our investment approach and impact measurement and methodology are having for our clients and the impact investment industry”.

He added, “We hope that the traditional financial services industry starts to adopt our belief that generating financial returns and creating social and environmental impact are not only compatible, but also mutually reinforcing objectives.”

The Impact Asset Manager award is for an impact fund manager that invests significant impact capital to achieve social and environmental goals. Described as “an example to follow”, Sonen impressed judges with its multi-manager approach, which implements high-quality impact strategies, measures impact through integrated financial and impact analysis and reports at the aggregate portfolio and underlying investment level.

The other GSG Honors winners were:

  • Impact Entrepreneur: Dr Consulta – presented to founder and CEO Thomas Srougi.

This award is for an impact entrepreneur who has founded a scaleable enterprise which aims to deliver measurable impact.

The judges applauded Dr Consulta’s efforts to provide high quality, low-cost and timely medical advice and treatment to 150 million uninsured Brazilians.

For an asset owner demonstrating exemplary commitment to achieve large-scale impact through its portfolio.

Judges applauded the increasing commitment to impact and setting impact targets to improve lives.

  • Impact Institutional Investor: PGGM

For an investment management firm that allocates significant capital to delivering social and environmental goals.

Judges were impressed with PGGM's commitment to responsible investment and by the efforts to reduce CO2 emissions, improve healthcare access and achieve a circular economy.

Indian electric scooter entrepreneur Tarun Mehta was the winner of the annual GSG Millennial Honor, which recognises leading entrepreneurs under the age of 30. Mehta is the founder of social enterprise Ather Energy which has developed an electric scooter specifically to suit Indian road conditions (it even has a reverse gear for backing out of parking spaces) and is setting up AtherGrid, a charging network for all electric vehicles which aims to reach 30 Indian cities.

Header photo: Pioneers Post founding editor Tim West and GSG chair Sir Ronald Cohen pictured along with the 2019 GSG Honors winners.