INFO · Search
· Chinese version · Subscribe

Health & Environment

Impact investment: change the world and return a profit

Florian Spiegel hopes to save the planet by promoting fuel-related securities, which represent a part of impact investing.

Recently, his company Evident Capital released the world’s first tokenised airplane leasing fund with a fund mandate on sustainable fuels. 

The Global Impact Investor Network, a US-based non-profit organisation that promotes impact investing, defines impact investing as investments that aim to create social and environmental impact alongside financial return. 

Compared to traditional investment, which focuses on risk and return, impact investment aims to put a new axis on investment-- mainly, the social impact investments have. 

In recent years, a growing number of corporations have recognised the importance of aligning their financial investment with their social and environmental goals, and the impact investing landscape is changing as new actors.

Spiegel’s company, Evident Capital, aims to improve the financial market through transitional investment, a branch of impact investment.

To cut the costs of current fossil fuel giants through cleaning the process, transitional investment incentivises oil and transport companies to invest in fuel-cutting equipment.

Spiegel introduces his tokenised airplane leasing fund to institutional investors.

Evident’s platform receives various private projects and then uploads them as divided digital securities on their network. 


One of their projects, a Liquified Natural Gas carrier ship from Honduras, was able to raise enough funding from the security to build and buy new carriers, making it more efficient to use fossil fuels than other companies. 

“A one percent decrease in the carrier gas industry can reduce more carbon than what 20,000 solar panels can create in a year,” Spiegel said. 

Although official numbers cannot be listed, the company says uploaded products have reached a total of US$ 50 million (HK$ 391 million) within the year they have been on the platform. 

“Small to medium investors who want to reach the impact investment market right now do not have enough funds to jump in,” Spiegel said, “my ideal world would be somewhere people can invest in whatever asset with any amount of money.”

Anisos’s final plan is to lease their own plane using sustainable fuel.

Evident, in partnership with aviation fund Anisos Capital Group, recently introduced their latest fund: an aviation scheme that plans to raise capital for sustainable fuel in aircraft. 

This is the first time that any aircraft leasing fund has been introduced in Hong Kong with a lower-end starting price of US$1,500(HK$11,500), according to their official press release. 

This plan shows both the profit-seeking and socially responsible parts of impact investment, which taps into renewable fuels while diving into the aircraft leasing sector. 

“For aviation to survive, we must make sure people can still ride them as the years go on,” said Steven Dominique Cheung, the head of Anisos Capital Group. “In order to do so, we must look for sustainable fuels.”

Howard Cheung, CFO of Anisos Capital Group, said the company’s goal is to make sure all the people have the right interest in sustainable and profitable investments.”

 “The airplane leasing market is one of the safest markets in Hong Kong based on physical securities. Therefore, the risk is reduced while the profitability and sustainability remain,” Cheung added.

The aircraft leasing industry shows great promise and proves to pay a stable dividend, as more than half of all aircraft worldwide are leased and not owned. 

According to Boeing, the total value of aircraft leasing is estimated to be around US$188 billion in 2023, with numbers projected to exceed US$200 billion (HK$ 1.5 trillion) in 2024.

Despite their nearly US$ 200 billion (HK$ 1.5 trillion)market value, the number of lessors is less than 200, indicating difficulty in entering the market. Source: Boeing

The industry has also shown an interest in sustainable fuels, as Cathay Pacific recently announced their 20 new Airbus A350-1000 planes will use alternative jet fuel instead of current models, which are projected to reduce up to 80% of carbon emissions.  

“Achieving carbon neutral growth from 2020 is an important target that we take seriously, and using alternative fuels is one of the key strategies in helping us to do so,” Rupert Hogg, Chief Executive Officer of Cathay Pacific, said in a press release. 

“We will continue to support the development and usage of biofuel to reach mainstream commercial viability," he added.

Anisos and Evident said there has been a lot of appeal for such products from institutional investors. 

“Though airplane leasing securities are considered a very safe asset, it is hard for even institutional investors to get in because the bar is so high,” said Manton Wai, Chief Financial Officer of Evident. “With funds like these, it is easier for institutional and even personal investors to enter such a market.” 

"Aircraft leasing is one of the most lucrative industries in the world... we're talking about high 20s, high 30s internal rate of return," Howard Cheung said.

Tejaswl Nimmagadda(centre), the lawyer of the PwC Network, talks to an FCC regulator on the process of issuing a plane lease-related fund.

Other local investors in the field of impact investment include Regal Hotels, which opened an iclub, Hong Kong’s first carbon-neutral hotel, more than ten years ago. They have also been providing an ESG report since 2016, according to their website.

Five of their hotels have the EarthCheck Gold Benchmarking Certification, and six hotels hold the EarthCheck Silver medal. The EarthCheck Benchmarking medal is the result of independent auditors. 

Happiness Capital, another impact investment firm in Hong Kong, is a venture capital firm that funds emerging startups that make a positive impact on the environment. 

Happiness Capital has ventured into many local industries, such as recyclable packaging, manufactured meat and AI-developed farming, and has become a certified B corporation since 2023. 

One of their funded startups, Plantix, is now the leading app for farmers to define crop illnesses and reduce the amount of unneeded pesticides.

Happiness Capital divides its startups into sections related to impact and ESG. (Source: Happiness Capital)

However, some are sceptical about whether impact investment can actually make a change. According to the Harvard Business Review, the efforts made in current impact investment are not enough to elicit the change needed to stop our world at the speed it needs to return. 

Professor Aswath Damodaran said that the changes brought about by impact investment in the financial field are also negligible in the large flow of finances. 

In a social media post, he stated, “While it is possible to find individual investors who have become sceptical about the future for fossil fuel companies, that view is not reflective of the market consensus.”

Damodaran said that the current investment environment should be more prudent and follow profit values in order to increase the market value of impact investment.

However, Spiegel believes impact investment will continue to change the world. 

“People should invest according to their values. In the end, I believe impact investment will make a better world, which is one reason why I started,” Spiegel said.

《The Young Reporter》

The Young Reporter (TYR) started as a newspaper in 1969. Today, it is published across multiple media platforms and updated constantly to bring the latest news and analyses to its readers.


Fake Crypto Exchanges: Insights from South Korea's Frontline

Hong Kong ELS turmoil Unfolds: Escalating Damages Surge Like an Avalanche