In our initial years of financial inclusion investments, we focused on low income populations and how their livelihoods could be improved with access to timely credit and other financial and non-financial services. Over time, we have diversified in to areas beyond financial inclusion and our non-financial goals adapted accordingly. We measure what matters most to us and to the companies we work with.
Efforts by industry stakeholders to find a common language to discuss social/environmental performance and to evolve tools and indicators to help measure this continue. As a Manager, we have provided input and tested these industry tools. However, given the sheer diversity of objectives, business models, and operating environments among our portfolio companies, we let them drive usage of any particular tool and decide what is valuable for their own decision-making and operations.
Our direct impact on the enterprises we work with is also relevant - in many cases we are the first (or early) equity investor or lender and thus play a critical role in the growth of the enterprise. The latest impact snapshot on our debt fund is available here.
In addition to our custom metrics, we have adopted the Global Impact Investment Rating System (GIIRS) as a central part of our approach. We were one of 12 emerging market Pioneer Fund Managers to participate in a private beta test of GIIRS for fund managers. Our key reasons for choosing GIIRS include the multi-sector scope of the rating, comparability across countries and businesses and the multi-faceted evaluation of an enterprise's practices - with respect to customers, workers and the community at large. After six years of participating in the GIIRS process, many of our portfolio companies are likely to continue using this tool.
In 2016, our financial inclusion fund (IFIF) was recognized as as one of 50 Best for the World Funds by B Lab which recognizes the impact of 50 GIIRS Rated funds in 2016. IFIF has received a Platinum Impact Business Model Rating, a "5 Star" Rating on Operations (ESG) and was the highest rated fund on Operations among Emerging Markets funds. Caspian is the only India-based and India-focused fund manager to have been included in the Top 50 list.
Caspian's Social & Environmental performance management initiatives are carried out in collaboration with our partners Grassroots Capital.