The economic crisis that we are going through does not just bear with it negative elements, but also new and positive concepts such as entrepreneurship, innovation and an opportunity to invest or attract funds.
These elements have contributed to the arrival of new operators in the field of investments, especially Business Angels, which join the already known investment funds. According to the concept given by the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism, Business Angels are private individuals (natural persons) which “strengthen the development of entrepreneurial projects with high potential for growth in the early business stages, injecting capital and adding value to management”.
Also, amongst the main characteristics to highlight of these operators are their professionalization or high level of knowledge in the sectors into which they invest, as well as innovativeness, and more and more frequently, their social responsibility.
This tendency of professionalization is clear from the Conference “Instruments and measures of support for Business Angels” held last June 28th in the headquarters of the Business Confederation of Madrid (CEIM-CEOE). Thus, a requirement for the different support programmes presented (ENISA, Fondo Isabel la Católica de Axis o Madrid Emprende seed capital) was, precisely, the professionalization of the investors. In some cases it is required that the Business Angels have a trade record (that they have carried out at least 3 investments in the last two years, for example), other programmes accept applications from investors whose investments were made more than a year ago as, in practically all cases, experience or professionalization is a determining factor in accessing support programmes.
Relating to the tendency towards Socially Responsible Investment (SRI), the European Commission, in its Communication on October 25th, 2011 on “A renewed EU strategy 2011-14 for Corporate Social Responsibility”, indicated that it is “supporting capacity-building for investors on how to integrate non-financial information into investment decisions”, and added that “public authorities have a particular responsibility to promote CSR in enterprises which they own or in which they invest”.
Therefore, at a European level, we can observe the three sides to SRI:
- support to investors in taking into account CSR criteria when financing a business,
- the need for the states to set an example, promoting the implementation of CSR in their own businesses or in the ones in which they invest and
- that companies incorporate rules of good governance and circulate such information.
The United Nation’s principles for responsible investment
Another point which the Commission dealt with in the above mentioned Communication is the invitation: “European asset managers and asset owners, especially pension funds, are invited to sign up to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment”
Said principles are:
We can take from all the above the European and international tendencies, as well as national tendencies (UNE regulation 165001:2012 of “Social responsibility. Socially responsible financial products. Requirements of investment products”- article in Spanish- from AENOR or the criteria that, foreseeably, will be included in the next National Plan of CSR) concerning investment, focused both on professionalization and incorporation of socially responsible criteria.
Investors and companies incorporating said criteria could lead to, amongst other benefits, (i) for investors: adapting their activity to European and international standards, access to public finance or co-finance programmes and better security for investments due to transparency and the incorporation of good governance policies and (ii) for companies: access to public subsidies, private national and foreign attraction of capital and improvement of corporative reputation.
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