The Trailblazers in Impact Interview Series celebrates some of the partners we’ve worked with over the years in creating positive social and environmental impact.
In this edition, we speak with Founder and Managing Partner of Treïs Group Jérôme David. Treïs Group has previously invested in high impact enterprises through Impact Partners such as SolarHome, a Pay-As-You-Go (“PAYG”) Solar for off-grid households in Southeast Asia.
In 2008, Jérôme David founded Treïs Group, an investment firm that provides advisory and management services to investors aligned with ESG principles. Prior to this, Jérôme amassed a wealth of experience in general management and marketing at United Technologies.
Enjoy the read!
- Tell us about yourself and how Treis Asia started. The Treis Family office was created in 2008. From the beginning, we had a diversified strategy with a strong social and environmental responsibility. Our main area of focus is on the environmental sector, where we invest in natural resources to contribute to reducing climate change.
- What is your investment thesis and which sectors/markets are you looking at closely
We have two main investment mandates, namely: (i) Growth and (ii) Venture Impact. Firstly, our growth mandate looks at long-run investments with no planned exits. We invest in companies where we take a majority, influential stake. The sectors that we invest in are clean and affordable energy, sustainable agriculture and responsible production—all of which are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals.
Overall, I would say we see the most opportunities in the energy sector as we’re seeing it become much more mainstream and with many opportunities present in Asia, particularly in micro-grids. We also like to work alongside the management teams of the companies we invest in.
Secondly, our venture impact mandate focuses on smaller ticket sizes rather than having a strong influence on the business. We focus on producing strong social and environmental impact in the energy, food and waste sector. We favor market solutions around managing natural resources. Some of the projects we have invested in include insect farming, biogas, fisheries, artificial leather, solar PAYG, among others.
With regards to our geographical focus, we started with a focus on Africa but have now extended ourselves in Asia.
- What do you look for when deciding to invest in an impact enterprise? What are your key growth metrics? Through our Impact Ventures mandate, we often invest in early stage companies where we can push companies to clearly understand the impact that they are trying to make. We check that the business has a scalable and replicable model and we look at the quality of the co-investors. We are also open to investing in enterprises that do not necessarily label themselves as Social Enterprises but still produce social and environmental benefits.
- What does your post-investment strategy entail?
In our growth mandate, once we have invested in an organization, we often have a seat on the board and are active in controlling the company’s activities and giving them management advice.
With regards to our impact venture mandate, we do not always have a seat on the board but have regular meetings with the management team.
- What would you advise new investors in navigating impact investing?
Investors cannot only be convinced by the heart. Social Enterprises need rationality and financial sustainability in the work they do. Impact should never be above financial performance, but should lie beside it.
Additionally, entrepreneurs should avoid taking shortcuts as they may pay for it in the long-run.
- What would you advise impact enterprises when they are raising capital? Similar to what was mentioned before, social enterprises cannot be too reliant on the impact aspect. Such enterprises should know that fundraising requires solid financial performance. Social Enterprises should be focused on understanding the problems they are trying to resolve and should be disciplined on the execution of the work.
- What was it like working with IIX? We have worked with IIX when we invested in Solarhome Myanmar. IIX’s due diligence process was extremely robust and well aligned with our impact focus. IIX should really be proud of being a pioneer in this space, and its Impact Partners team has been a great asset in connecting impact investors with social enterprises in the region,