ASEAN Storm Resilience Fund idea wins sustainable investing challenge

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JAKARTA, 13 April 2018 – ASEAN Storm Resilience Fund, an idea aimed at helping farming communities withstand extreme weather events, won the 8th Kellogg – Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge, held in London on 13 April.

The concept was chosen as the best answer to the question of how to attract critical private sector funding to solve the most pressing global issues of today.

Maoying He, Teng Kai Loh, and Felicia Shaw from Singapore Management University Master of Business Administration programme, proposed the concept that combines grassroots-led microfinancing with a development impact bond enhancement feature, and facilitates private investment and risk-sharing in storm-resistant housing.

In a competition dominated by established US and European universities, the ASEAN Storm Resilience Fund was the dark horse in the race. “There was pressure but it didn’t affect us. Ultimately we believed in the strength of our proposal, which is highly viable and scalable,” summed up Maoying. “There is an urgent need for financing solutions in this space.”

The 2018 edition of the challenge, held at Morgan Stanley’s European headquarters, was considered one of the most competitive in its eight-year history. A total of 307 students submitted over a hundred investment prospectuses aimed at addressing social and environmental causes. Twelve teams were shortlisted for the finals in London, with participants from Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Darden, Columbia, LSE, Oxford, Tuck, Utah, CEIBS, the Indian Institute of Management and Business School Netherlands.

Judging was conducted by Morgan Stanley senior executives and distinguished institutional investors. Ian Simm, Founder and Chief Executive of Impax Asset Management, said that they chose ASEAN Storm Resilience Fund because they found the proposal to be especially clear. “They have created an approach to solving a very serious problem in a way that we believe can flex with changing conditions and is set up for success,” he said.

Having won the challenge, the team then travelled to Los Angeles over 30 April – 2 May to present their ideas at the prestigious Milken Institute Global Conference. “The Milken Institute attracts the world’s luminaries in finance, innovation and policy. It was a valuable opportunity to learn from the best,” said Teng Kai. “We were proud to have represented SMU and Southeast Asia at the event.”

The team has attracted interest from various quarters and is now taking the ASEAN Storm Resilience Fund forward. “We are keen to make an impact for the region, regardless of the form it takes. We have been inspired by the feedback from the Challenge and at the Milken Institute Global Conference. It is all about provoking change for the better,” said Felicia.