In the midst of a climate crisis, we are witnessing a global trend of increasing asset allocations to impact investing by family offices and foundations. The Houssian Foundation, a Vancouver, B.C.-based family foundation created by the Houssian family, is one such Foundation with a bold vision to strategically align their investment objectives by tackling some of the most pressing issues of our time.   

It was during the Houssian Foundation’s recent process of formalizing their investment policy statement that a board member offered a challenge; ‘how can we be more progressive, more nimble and more agile than a traditional investing strategy’?  These questions provoked the Foundation to reflect on their role within the impact investing ecosystem and ultimately led to a decision to seek out an investment portfolio fully mission-aligned across all asset classes.   

For Jamie Houssian, Principal at Elemental Energy and Director of the Houssian Foundation’s Board of Directors, it’s also about recognizing that this is a very unique time in history and in humanity’s interaction with the natural world – the environment.  “We realize that we’re in the midst of an environmental crisis” he explains, “and that we have capabilities at the philanthropic and business level to try and assist in the collective movement towards halting damage to the climate”.

Jamie Houssian, Principal at Elemental Energy, at one of their solar energy projects.
  Jamie Houssian at an Elemental Energy solar project.

Why climate action and the environment?

Jamie, as the Principal of Elemental Energy, is no stranger to renewable energy and clean energy. Elemental Energy is a renewable energy development company with interests in operating and developing wind, solar, and hydro projects throughout North America.  

Naturally, Jamie’s expertise in this space has influenced his investments in climate action and the environment, including the Foundation’s investment in Deetken Impact Sustainable Energy’s Caribbean Basin Sustainable Energy Fund (CABEF), which focuses on investing in sustainable energy infrastructure in Central America and the Caribbean.

“The CABEF fund is one more avenue of exposure to renewable energy and an industry that we believe in, know about and have built some expertise”, says Jamie.  “We understand the amount of local work required on these projects.  Whether it’s interacting with Indigenous communities or working with landowners, permitting agencies or local governments, we appreciate the extent of ‘boots on the ground’ work required for these projects to be successful. So going beyond North America, we wanted to have exposure to new international markets without necessarily requiring our own internal team”.

The Houssian Foundation’s CIO, Ingrid Leong adds, “it became very apparent in our early conversations with Deetken, the strength of their relationships and their networks in Latin America and the Caribbean, and our ability to access those networks and expertise, through participation in CABEF.”

Solar energy project, part of the CABEF portfolio of Deetken Impact, in Monte Plata, Dominican Republic.
Solar project, part of the CABEF portfolio, in Monte Plata, Dominican Republic.

Guidance for other family offices

Ingrid Leong draws from her experience over the last year to share her guidance on aligning philanthropic and investment goals with impact investing.  Her first piece of advice is to encourage others to create a draft investment framework and start executing on that strategy but to remain open to revising your policy, as being too narrowly focused can unnecessarily restrict investment opportunities.  

Ingrid also found it particularly helpful to build a network through other family offices and similar organizations. “There’s a lot of knowledge that can be shared within this group,” she says, “including learnings people may be willing to share from their own implementation  journey”.  Her third recommendation is to invest in the learning around the space by seeking out experts and building resources internally.  For the Foundation, this took the form on an investment committee, tasked with evaluating how they shortlist, identify opportunities and conduct due diligence.

“For me, one of the appeals of renewables is you can make money long term into the future while helping reduce carbon emissions and change the system”.

A rising trend

Jamie believes the increasing allocation to impact investing by family offices and foundations was inevitable – which is great. “We’re at a time where the alignment of doing good and acting as responsible citizens just makes sense. For me, one of the appeals of renewables is you can make money long term into the future while helping reduce carbon emissions and change the system”. 

Ingrid also shares Jamie’s optimism about the rising trend in impact investing by family offices adding that there is a role the investment community needs to play in terms of how they are allocating capital and the questions being asked of portfolio advisors and companies they are invested in. She thinks that collectively, family offices are aware of the role they may play in allocating capital to generate specific social and environmental benefits.

“It’s about time that people start exploring new portfolios and (it’s a bit cliche but) aligning their wallets with their values”, Jamie says. “I mean, I don’t want to wake up in the morning and look at my stock portfolio and realize we’ve made a bunch of money because some companies sold a bunch of cigarettes and weapons around the world – it just doesn’t feel good”. 

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Magali Lamyin, Director of Communications and Development for Deetken Impact

MAGALI LAMYIN

Director of Communications and Development

 

Magali brings extensive market intelligence, business development and marketing experience from her work at the Central Bank of Mexico, the Canadian Institute for Market Intelligence, and the IESE-PWC e-Business Centre in Barcelona. She also co-led national marketing campaigns for businesses in the hospitality and early childhood education sectors for almost a decade before joining Deetken. In her current role, she is responsible for leading Deetken Impact’s communications, marketing and branding strategy. She is also involved in the due diligence process for project selection with an emphasis in Mexico.

Magali holds a BA in Economics from Mexico's ITAM and a Master's degree in Economics from the University of British Columbia.

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Jose Lamyin, Managing Partner Deetken Impact

JOSE LAMYIN

Managing Partner

 

José has extensive experience as a business advisor for clients throughout Canada, Europe and Latin America in mining, telecommunications, and finance. Prior to co-founding The Deetken Group, José worked for Teck Cominco in Peru and Canada and Deutsche Bank in London (UK). José has spearheaded much of the strategic growth of Deetken Asset Management since inception and is currently focused on investment selection.

José received his BS in Engineering from the University of British Columbia and MBA from IESE School of Business (Barcelona). Born in Peru, José is fluent in English and Spanish.

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Alexa Blain, Managing Partner Deetken Impact

ALEXA BLAIN

Managing Partner

 

Alexa is responsible for finance, operations and investor relations at Deetken Impact. She brings over 10 years of experience in financial consulting and asset management, with specific expertise in company and investment analysis, business valuation and securities/corporate finance. Prior to joining Deetken, she spent three years with African Alliance, a pan-African financial services group, where she focused on expanding the firm’s retail financial services operations as well as on the origination and negotiation of new capital. In addition, Alexa has six years of asset management experience with the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, the Macquarie Group and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.

Alexa is a CFA Charterholder. She has also completed an MA in Financial Economics and an Honours BA in Economics, both at the University of Toronto.

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Fernando Alvarado, Head of Deetken Impact Sustainable Energy

FERNANDO ALVARADO

CEO

Honduras Renewable Energy Managers (HREM) and Caribbean Renewable Energy Managers (CAREM)

 

Fernando Alvarado leads the General Partner and Investment Advisor of two clean energy and energy efficiency project finance and venture capital funds: Honduras Renewable Energy Financing Facility (H-REFF) and Caribbean Basin Sustainable Energy Fund (CABEF), which he structured and runs with a combined target capitalization of $100m.

Development Investment Banker with 28 years of international credit and investment experience and 18 years of direct experience assessing diversified renewable energy portfolios in Latin America & the Caribbean. He has participated in more than 50 syndicated credit and investment transactions for renewable energy projects in excess of $250 MM. He led the creation, structuring, fundraising, legal closing and portfolio construction of several specialized renewable energy funds.

Costa Rican, based in San Jose, Mr. Alvarado has an MBA in Banking and Finance cum laude from Universidad de Costa Rica.

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Carl Black, Portfolio Manager Deetken Impact

CARL BLACK

Portfolio Manager

 

Carl is a Portfolio Manager with Deetken Impact focused on analyzing and working with MSMEs, social enterprises, and renewable energy developers in Latin America and the Caribbean. His main responsibilities include supporting business development, managing technical assistance projects, leading investment due diligence, and monitoring portfolio performance. Prior to joining Deetken Impact, Carl worked for five years as a consultant, advising public sector clients an non profits in Canada and financial services companies in Latin America. He started his career at the Bank of Canada, where he researched issues related to household and business credit. 

Carl completed an Honours BA in Economics at the University of British Columbia. He also holds an MSc in Economics & Development from the University of Oxford, where he earned distinctions in quantitative and development economics.

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Cristobal Aguirre, Investment Analyst at Deetken Impact

CRISTOBAL AGUIRRE

Investment Analyst

 

Cristobal has over 6 years of experience in the asset management industry, where his responsibilities have ranged from asset allocation and portfolio management to risk analysis and software development. Before relocating to Canada, Cristobal worked as a senior investment analyst in AFP Habitat—Chile’s largest pension fund—where he led the tactical asset allocation and macroeconomic research for emerging markets.

Cristobal is a CFA Charterholder, and completed a BA in Economics at Universidad de Chile.

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Chad Parsons, Senior Investment Analyst at Deetken Impact

CHAD PARSONS

SeniorInvestmentAnalyst

 

Chad has worked as a consultant in business and technology for 20 years – often helping clients with their business transformation initiatives.    He has worked with start-ups, government, and established businesses to further their product and service offerings with a balanced approach.   After pursuing a research degree on leveraging technology for social and economic development; Chad has found a valuable alignment of his background with Deetken’s innovative impact investments. 

Chad completed a BS in Engineering from the University of British Columbia and has a MSc with distinction from the University of Manchester (UK).

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