With the help of Charly and Lisa Kleisner, imfino on Tuesday held the inaugural „imfino City Talk“. The intention of the event series is to get visionary people, both from the local and international community, on stage to share their stories and approaches with the audience as well as showcasing sustainable entrepreneurs and their passion for developing solutions and innovation for today's cities.
At this first event, a key-note speech by the Kleisners formed the central pillar of an afternoon and evening of stimulated discussion about social enterprises and impact finance in Austria and abroad. Attendees included Robert Gulla, CEO Lukoil Austria; Monika Langthaler, Director R20 Austria & EU; Jörg Moshuber, Amundi Austria; Jean-Claude Plana, Chief Investment Officer, UNIDO; Selma Prodanovic, brainswork & 1millionstartups; and Bernhard Weber, ICEP.
Over a lunch at a social-enterprise-run restaurant, conversation was focussed on obstacles to impact investing in Austria. Potential for collaboration was identified and new networks were established. In Eco-taxis, the discussion then moved to a wider audience at imfino’s HQ, where the full public event took place.
The imfino city talk was characterized by the success story of the Kleissners, who have contributed significantly to the impact investing industry, and continue to set the tone with the KL Felicitas Foundation and the TONIIC investor network. Charly, a native Austrian and Lisa, born and raised in Hawaii, form a visibly harmonious team and travel the world, always looking for social and ecological innovation. With their 100% Club they bring together similar-minded investors, who place 100% of their assets in impact investments. Lisa Kleissner: „Every investment has impact, it is only the question whether this is positive or negative for the environment and society." Charly Kleissner adds: "In the financial crisis, our investment portfolio lost value, but at around 17% far less than similar “classic” portfolios whose value fell by around 50%. We experienced first-hand how impact investing can also contribute to risk minimisation." In general, according to Kleissner, we are facing a major upheaval in the financial sector, as the business of the banks, as we know it, is coming to an end.
The viewpoint of social enterprises was then provided by the founders of two Viennese companies: Firefly Club and Helioz. Christoph Sackl and DJ SLG, the founders of Firefly Club, have formed a club to train music-loving people with disabilities as DJs. Originally it was only about a leisure offer for people with disabilities, from which the training developed, which is currently offered in Vienna and Lower Austria. The demand is enormous, which is why the two founders are transforming the club into a social enterprise and want to make their training and marketing even more professional. Christoph Sackl is fighting for a fairer society in which disability does not play a role. DJ SLG emphasizes: "In my work as a DJ I can forget my handicap, because music connects all people."
The theme for Martin Wesian is water. Many years ago, in Venezuela, he became ill with cholera and he has made it his goal to provide as many people as possible with cost-effective access to clean drinking water without chemicals. An innovative gadget, the “Wadi”, has been developed in cooperation with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich. It measures the intensity and duration of UV radiation from the sun and indicates with a smiley when the water is drinkable. Wadi also helps to reduce CO2, since water is usually disinfected by boiling. This fact has prompted large supermarket-chain Hofer to enter into a project cooperation with the Helioz company to implement its CO2 reduction plans. Other projects are under discussion, as are cooperations with NGOs in countries where clean drinking water is a problem. With Impact Investing, the supply of Wadis could be implemented more quickly, as past experience with classic investors is not positive. "I declined an offer from a large German fund for investment of one million euros because it was only with a condition of a planned obsolescence after one year of use of my product- for me it was unthinkable because the devices have already been used without error for up to five years and that's part of my goals."
After the official part of the afternoon was concluded, the music of DJ SLG and refreshments from the Kleine Stadtfarm in cooperation with Jugend am Werk allowed plenty of mingling and networking between the present investors, entrepreneurs and stakeholders from politics, finance and science.