Mission and Vision
Our aim is to create a paradigm shift in our societal values and priorities so that economic growth does not jeopardize human development and environmental sustainability.
Through our investments, we seek to shape a compassionate society that desires a better world for future generations while protecting “the commons” upon which all life on Earth depends.
We envision a world in which our values and actions reflect our appreciation of our interdependence with the rest of humanity and with the environment.
There is no real official start of RS Group, which we consider a work-in-progress.
In 2008, Annie Chen, the founder and chair of RS Group, decided to explore ways to engage in philanthropy. Attending a social enterprise conference in Hong Kong, Annie heard a speaker describe how social enterprises differ from mainstream businesses, in that they focus not only on a financial return, but also on positive social and/or environmental impact. Pointing out how the financial tsunami stemmed from the single-minded pursuit of financial profit, the speaker concluded that, in order to move the world towards sustainability, “All businesses should become social enterprises”.
Annie felt as if a light bulb went off in her head. “I discovered the concept of socially responsible investing and I cannot describe how amazing it felt to hear someone vocalize an idea that made total sense to me – it was as though I had found a way to connect my heart with my head”.
RS Group has been on a journey to develop Annie’s portfolio into a total impact portfolio by investing in and supporting for-profit businesses, social enterprises, not-for-profit organizations and initiatives that create social and environmental value while seeking to be a force for making our world more sustainable and just.
Frequently Asked Questions
RS Group is a small family office with great ambitions. Using our experience as an example, we seek to change the conversation regarding approaches to investment and philanthropy. We think we can create a lot more impact when we make our entire portfolio work for good. We are learning by doing, and we hope to share our experience with other like-minded investors who are also looking to create more value with their investments.
We recognize there are areas where philanthropy works better than investments, and we support initiatives we feel are potentially catalytic in nature and those that will leverage the investments we are making.
Through this journey of developing our portfolio for total performance, we hope to also develop ourselves so our team members may find our place in the society, feel connected to our community, and be empowered to advocate for a world we will feel proud to hand off to the next generation.
We recognize the great privilege and responsibility in managing wealth. Taking the “blended value” approach, we aim to make all RS Group’s capital work for good through creating positive financial, social and environmental value.
We believe if our world is to change course and develop more sustainably, we can no longer approach our problems in a bifurcated way where we invest with the aim of only financial gain and use a small amount of the profits for social good. We would like to join a growing market of other investors proving the world that asset owners may truly do good and do well.
In many ways, a total portfolio approach makes investing for the long-term easier. We can invest seed capital in a start-up company which requires us to be patient before we see any results and we can balance that with a liquid, publicly-listed investment which provides us with our operating capital. Focusing on the bigger portfolio and managing for financial performance with impact means each investment balances another.
This is an emerging strategy with limited existing examples. There are few managers with years of experience building, managing and evaluating such a portfolio or products that would fit into our portfolio. We are fortunate to be working with advisors such as Jed Emerson and Ivo Knoepfel who have the expertise, experience and networks to help guide our process. We are constantly seeking new ideas and committed experts who can help us. We view this process as a huge opportunity to learn and hope to share our learning with others as well.
We must continue to challenge ourselves and our managers to stay focused on the long-term fundamentals of impact investing and look for additional positive impact in the environment and social sectors. At the same time, we want to help build this field and create demand for more choices of investment products.
We are very concerned with environmental issues facing the world and feel the investment community has lagged in addressing these important challenges. Sustainable development is a clear focus for us. This does not mean just “Clean Tech”, although that is part of the solution. Focusing on climate change and the questions surrounding sustainability affords us a wide range of opportunities and allows us to engage with many actors including manufacturing companies that need to improve their processes for energy efficiency and waste management, for example. Investing in companies that have the pursuit of social and environmental impact in their DNA is important to us. We are looking for long-term partners not short-term projects. We are learning by doing, and have found it fascinating to see the linkages between so many issues.
RS Group is a new investment initiative; at this stage of its development, we understand our impact to be generated primarily through partnership with the groups in which we are investing our capital. For example, as an investor in Oasis Fund and SVhk — two very different strategies but both creating important value while building the momentum around impact investing. As we plan for the future, we intend to formalize our own point of view regarding how best to assess our firm’s impact as an investor — but also recognize we are in the early stage of our strategy and that in many ways the greatest impact we may have is in investing in organizations which have documented their value-add to our world.
We have learned this approach is neither quick, nor easy, nor black-and-white. It takes a lot of work to find synergies in a portfolio. However, we have been surprised to find so many ways in which each investment and grant can leverage each other’s impact to create a multiplier effect. The positive impact is truly greater than the sum of any of the component parts. A “purist” approach to either the financial return equation or the “extra-financial” returns does not result in a total portfolio. By taking this approach we are learning to look at the value proposition of each project in a completely new way.
RS Group does not accept unsolicited grant or investment proposals at this time. We work through our partners and network to field and select opportunities.