Looking Beyond the Pandemic – Global Impact Investing Priorities

5 min read

We are living through an unprecedented time that is testing the preparedness and resilience of countries around the world. Antonio Gueterres, the UN Secretary General referred to it as “the most challenging crisis we have faced since the Second World War”.  As the pandemic takes its course, we believe this will have far reaching consequences for societies and economies. How the global economic system survives and recovers, however, lies in the effective combination of public sector capacity, private sector engagement and fiscal strength.

AVPN has identified four high-impact sectors that the public and private sectors can leverage to increase their resilience against future socio-economic shocks.

Public Health: Build a Resilient Infrastructure

The ability of financial systems to absorb a shock is linked to the robustness of its social infrastructure. In countries where governments have created sophisticated social infrastructure, crisis management has proven to be more effective, with lower infection rates and fatalities.

The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has demonstrated the lack of pandemic preparedness in even the most advanced developed economies. Lack of testing kits, protective gear for healthcare workers, ventilators or beds in intensive care units are familiar stories across the globe. Whilst Asia had experience with the deadly SARS virus, no one could have anticipated the emergency response levels required. It has taken strong political leadership with adoption of new technologies to enforce rapid and decisive nationwide action (as in the cases of South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore).

The need to invest resources in a resilient public health infrastructure is no longer contested. Important investments that can bridge huge systemic gaps include constructing and building the capacity of hospitals, biotech companies that develop vaccines and testing kits, manufacturing companies that produce medical supplies, affordable and accessible health insurance agencies and awareness-raising for healthcare workers. Take a deeper dive into these investment opportunities in the healthcare sector.

Technology: Break Boundaries Across Sectors

Harnessing the power of digital innovations is now more important than ever before. Not only can it reduce the impact of COVID-19 on individuals and businesses, but it can also break boundaries across sectors through increased pathways for monitoring and communication. Numerous healthcare apps have been developed within a very short time, and can support medical institutions through contact tracing, mental health management, and/or community support for the last mile. Find out which innovative healthcare solutions on the ground are saving lives, and how you can scale their impact.

With online education portals and teleconferences becoming readily accessible, flexible working environments have become the norm, and will continue to be so even when the crisis is over. In fact, this is an opportune time for many businesses to invest in digitalisation and rethink the ways they can continue providing services and engaging with their stakeholders. At AVPN, we are going virtual with our largest social investing convening. Find out how we are taking learning and networking to new heights!

Clean Energy: Grasp the Window of Opportunity

With international travel grounding to a halt and manufacturing production taking a pause, air pollution and global emissions have dropped quite substantially. This presents a unique opportunity for governments and investors to address climate change – but it will require strong leadership to stay the course on this path.

It is indeed difficult to continue prioritising climate action in this crisis. The oil supply war has created a glut in the fossil fuel market, and this may appear beneficial to Asian economies dependent on fossil fuels, especially if they adopt a shorter-term outlook. This is a hard call leaders must take, especially against the backdrop a deteriorating economic situation. The World Bank has warned that the virus will keep almost 24 million people in East Asia in poverty, and governments are issuing stimulus packages to boost the economy. As countries like Japan, South Korea and Singapore announce economic rescue packages, where this capital will be allocated is crucial.

The pandemic gives us a glimpse of what climate-borne diseases can do to the world – and already, the World Health Organisation is estimating that global warming will snatch another 250,000 lives per year across the next few decades if we do not take preventive measures now. Infrastructure spending, therefore, must take on a longer term mindset by investing not only in healthcare and ICT, but also in a resilient low carbon economy. Learn how climate leaders can navigate through these short-term uncertainties and take advantage of emerging opportunities.

Ecosystem: Build Networks of Trust

Instead of apportioning blame, more collaborative efforts are needed to tackle the crisis. Investments made in knitting together ecosystems and networks can help communities, companies and portfolios weather the inevitable surprises of pandemic, recession or climate change.

In this moment of global crisis, it is encouraging how collaborations across geographies and areas of expertise have emerged. It has been a privilege to witness local networks emerging between the private and the public sectors to support underprivileged populations; great scientists, corporations and philanthropists are working around the clock on creating a vaccine and supplying potential treatment drugs for free, but also providing immediate relief for frontline professionals and smaller businesses. With their strong links to local communities, these networks have the potential to outlast the current crisis by continuing to build on the trust and needs on the ground. Learn how you can collaborate on credible projects to meet urgents needs in Asia’s poorest communities.

Each crisis is also an opportunity. Today’s upheaval is definitely pushing nations to rethink their businesses, fix financial systems, and alter behaviours in order to better prepare for what the world has in store for us.


About Author
Komal Sahu
Komal Sahu Chief of Sustainable Finance AVPN

Komal serves as Chief of Sustainable Finance at AVPN. She leads AVPN’s engagement with family offices, HNWIs, private wealth holders, corporations and financial institutions across Asia. In this capacity, she helps these stakeholders achieve their objectives of investing within a framework of impact and sustainability.

Komal brings over two decades of diverse work experience in Europe and Asia to her role. She began her career as an investigator with the British Civil Service and was focused on the SME sector in London. She subsequently worked for KPMG where she specialized in the fund management industry. Komal has completed numerous assignments at top tier banks and insurance companies in the UK. She has tax expertise in structuring entities and funds and taking companies and funds to listing on the London Stock Exchange.

Over the last decade, Komal has provided support to a number of social enterprises and charities across Asia. She is an angel investor and an LP in early and late stage funds. Many of her investments have focused on generating societal good. Komal has served as a mentor at a number of incubators and accelerators and has worked with startups including at A Star, a Singapore government led accelerator for science and technology companies that are improving lives through innovation and discoveries.

Komal is a Fellow of the Institute of Certified Accountants and Associate of the Institute of Taxation. She has an FT certification as a Non-Executive Independent Director. She has a BA Honors in Economics.