$8.7 Trillion Boom In 'Sustainable Investments' As Ethical Investors Seek To Do Social Good

More entrepreneurs are becoming choosier when it comes to where they put their cash
Richard Branson has invested in clean meat company Memphis Meats (Photo: Jarle Naustvik)

A growing number of leading global entrepreneurs are looking to invest their funds in ethical businesses that seek to do social good.

According to USSIF.org, one-fifth of all investments in the U.S. are now targeted at sustainable companies. In fact, in 2016, Wall Street experienced an eye-watering $8.7 trillion boom in sustainable investments, as investment funds sought to accommodate demand from U.S. institutions for assets that met their increasing environmental, social and corporate-governance goals.

In addition, many of the world's biggest entrepreneurs are also becoming more selective about where they put their money.

Sir Richard Branson

The Virgin entrepreneur - who has ditched beef due to ethical and environmental concerns - has invested cash into more ethical-focused and sustainable projects.

Branson - who made the bold claim that the world will 'no longer need to kill any animals', within 30 years, as all meat will be either clean or plant-based - put his money where his mouth is, investing in tech startup Memphis Meats.

Memphis Meats, which aims to have clean meat products available for mass consumption by 2020,  produces chicken, beef and duck using animal cells. Branson and other notable investors including Bill Gates hope the company can cater for the growing demand for protein-based products - without the heavy reliance on land, water or feed used in traditional farming.

Tech Titans

There has been a significant $1bn commitment to eco-friendly initiatives from some of the leading names in Silicon Valley. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and Jack Ma are launching a new low-carbon energy fund, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, aimed at solving climate change-related problems.

The fund will invest in technologies aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by half a gigaton.

America's leading entrepreneurs have led the charge of the U.S. economy in recent months, with leading indicators published in the latest forex news suggesting growth in America will be robust for the remainder of 2018, strengthening the dollar against the pound and the euro.

Warren Buffett has diversified his portfolio to include more sustainable investments (Photo: wild1968)

Warren Buffett

Even the world’s most successful financial investor, Warren Buffett, has turned his attention to ethical investment.

His company is investing in new solar and wind energy projects as we speak. Historically, Buffett was not considered as someone who normally thinks about the morality of his investment decisions but, in 2010, he, along with Bill and Melinda Gates, founded the Giving Pledge.

Buffett and co. pledged to invest more than half of their income in socially responsible causes, leading to his recent consideration of solar and wind energy.

Cruelty-Free Investing

Investors wishing to go down a similar path and identify socially responsible companies to invest in can use Cruelty-Free Investing; a not-for-profit organisation launched to help investors make decisions in line with their own ethical values.

All publicly-traded corporations on NASDAQ, NYSE and NYSE American are listed either in the 'Companies that do exploit animals' section or the 'Companies that don't exploit animals' section. This resource does not offer advice on which stocks to invest in. It simply provides data that investors and financial advisors can utilise to make smarter ethics-based decisions when necessary.

On the whole, ethical investing is becoming more commonplace among general fund managers, as well as niche investors. Increased connectivity and media coverage means investors are more aware of what's going on in the world and what impact socially responsible investments can have in the short and long-term.

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