Isenberg Graduate Sheds Light on Investments that Drive Change
November 21, 2019
“We really target impact investing,” said Isenberg PhD graduate Stavros Siokos ’98 in a recent talk at the school. Siokos is managing partner of Astarte Capital Partners LLP, a private equity asset management firm based in London. He told his predominantly student audience that his undertakings’ aims are broader than simple sustainability. The work entails, he said, private market investments that are driven by mega-macroeconomic trends like aging and increased population, scarce food and water supplies, need for energies, and carbon control. “We, of course, want to make money as well,” Siokos said, “but we want to make sure that is done in a sustainable way for the environment and the people.”
One project Astarte has launched is the Project Cusco initiative in South America. The fund is aiming to develop a number of eucalyptus forests from previously idle land with the goal of producing a sustainable paper production source. In addition to generating employment, including greater opportunities for women, Astarte aims to help local communities with education. The project’s annual investment return is expected to be around 15 percent, Siokos said.
He described two other Astarte investments and partnerships. The first, the Beyond Capital Fund, invests in for-profit enterprises in East Africa and India. The recipient businesses focus on healthcare, water, sanitation, energy, financial inclusion, and food security. That includes East African fruit farms involving more than 3,000 farmers. The second, under the aegis of Yoo Capital, is modernizing West London’s Olympia Exhibition Center and its surrounding neighborhood. A pervasive, stylish facelift has recast the center as a cultural hub and magnet for 220 world-class exhibitions each year. The redeveloped neighborhood includes a performance arts center, dedicated pedestrian access, artisan shops, and a special needs school, and generates thousands of new jobs. “That’s what I call impact investing,” Siokos told the gathering.
Siokos was a guest speaker sponsored by the campus student chapter of INFORMS (Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences). The chapter’s faculty advisor, Isenberg Professor Anna Nagurney, was Siokos’ dissertation chair.