Stichting Flowfund is a foundation founded and funded by Fred Matser primarily with the aim to promote harmony: within people (the invironment), between people, and between people and the environment.
Flowfund donates money to only a few selected charitable organizations, currently being Fred Foundation, ForestPeace Foundation and Essentia Foundation. By design Flowfund has a finite lifetime and aims to spend all its assets to public benefit causes in the course of a few decades. As such part of the assets can be invested with a longer horizon. The trustees aim to invest in a responsible way, and where possible support initiatives and/or investment funds to invest with positive impact on society.
Part of Flowfund’s assets have been placed in listed funds by an external asset manager, whereby funds are chosen that are explicitly focused on selecting companies that offer E(nvironment), S(ocial) Incorporate G(overnance) into their policy.
The other part of the assets is invested in unlisted impact investments. The latter is done by investing in the Private Equity and Venture Capital funds mentioned below and, in exceptional cases, by investing directly in a ‘social enterprise’. For these investments, the impact is just as important as the financial return.
A helpful model of the various concepts of investing can be found on the website of Phenix Capital. We will classify our most illustrative investments in this model, while recognizing this is not a straightforward exercise.
The biggest position in the investment portfolio of Flowfund is the Global Equity Fund (listed large companies) managed by Generation Investment Management. We also participate in their Asia Fund (listed companies) and a few of their Private Equity funds (unlisted companies). Looking through the company names in its portfolio’s, some would qualify in the ‘spectrum of capital’ pictured above as ‘ESG Integration’ and some as ‘Financial-First Impact Driven’.
In our home country, Holland, we are an active supporter of initiatives promoting impact investing by setting the example. As such we have been a founding investor for Social Impact Ventures (Social Impact Ventures NL Fund I) in 2015/2016, and so are we at the start of their second fund in 2020: Rubio Impact Ventures (Rubio Impact Fund II) and we will participated in their third fund in 2024.
In 2017 we have participated in Pymwymic Healthy Ecosystems Fund, and in 2020 we have topped up our participation.
In 2019 Wire Group initiated a PE fund-of-impactfunds: Wire Private Markets Fund. Flowfund was one of the first investors in this fund. Wire Group had been very helpful to us for several years in finding and selecting PE impact funds abroad (see below) and we welcome their initiative to make life very easy for impact investors through their fund-of-impactfunds. In 2021 we increased the initial commitment to Wire Private Markets Fund and we committed to participate in their second fund Wire Thrive Fund II in 2023.
We consider the Dutch impact funds above as true impact driven funds, generally ‘balanced’ between ‘Financial-First’ and ‘Impact-First’.
A particular ‘Financial-First’ case is our participation (at the start in 2018) in Forward.one’s first Venture Capital fund (also based in Holland). Most of the companies in their portfolio intentionally target positive societal & environmental impact, but the prospectus does not explicitly claim an impact dimension to the investment process. In 2021 we also committed to participate in their second fund.
Abroad we have positions in a few impact driven PE- and VC-funds: Better Ventures Fund II, Better Ventures Fund III and Better Ventures Fund IV (all based in the United States of America), Just Climate (based in Luxembourg), Ananda Impact Fund III (based in Germany), EcoEnterprises Fund III (based in Costa Rica), Regenero Impact Fund (based in Switzerland) and Technology Impact Fund II Capricorn Investment Group (based in the United States of America). We consider these funds as ‘balanced’ on impact and financials with some tilt to ‘Financial-First’.
Besides the PE/VC-funds, some exceptions have arisen over time through direct participation in social enterprises. Thus we have made capital available to:
- Carbon Tanzania to support their innovative business approach to protect forests and wildlife;
- Fastned to support the transition to Full Electric Vehicles;
- Weeding Technologies to support herbicide-free weed control at scale;
- WakaWaka to support those who live off-grid and need some electricity;
- African Improved Foods to support people to maximize their potential through improved nutrition.
We hope that sketching our impact investments underscores that this part of the investment universe is developing nicely, and encourages readers to do their bit.
Flowfund has been granted a special status (ANBI) by the tax authorities as being of benefit to the public at large.
An ANBI is a type of charitable institution that is required to publish certain information on a website. You can download Flowfund’s ANBI publication below. The publications are in Dutch.