One of the Church of Sweden’s overall goals is making beneficial contributions to society. The Church of Sweden’s financial policy clearly states that investments shall be made in companies that contribute to society. For this reason, we also stimulate the development of the financial sector by being actively involved in the creation of new funds that have a clear focus on, e.g. climate change issues and the reduction of poverty. The funds we invest in with the clearest societal benefits at present are as follows:
Althelia Climate Fund
The purpose of Althelia Climate Fund is to protect valuable forests in developing countries by providing the inhabitants of villages with an income from sustainable agriculture and the sale of emission allowances that a forest generates, which is greater than the income derived from cutting the forest down - often for the purpose of growing crops.
Global deforestation accounts for almost a fifth of overall environmental impact because trees absorb immense amounts of carbon dioxide. Many large, old trees are cut down and processed to make charcoal which is then burned thus releasing all of the carbon dioxide bound in the charcoal into the atmosphere.
This fund attempts to draw attention to the several other ways that forests are valuable aside from their timber and fiber value, e.g. being the home of plants and animals, benefits to the climate and the regulation of soil and air moisture and temperature. The fund has received an award from the UN as being one of 16 initiatives with benefits to the climate. It is a true “game changer”.
The Church of Sweden is one of the original investors of this fund which was introduced in 2013 in conjunction with another European Investment bank and the Dutch development bank FMO.
SEB microfinance fund
For many years, micro-financing has been a part of the Church of Sweden’s international work, primarily through Oikocredit, one of the world’s leading micro-financing actors. The Church of Sweden participated in establishing Oikocredit over 40 years ago.
We also participated as investors in the start-up phase for Sweden’s first microfinance fund for institutional investors, SEB Microfinance Fund, which was launched in 2013 by SEB. Additionally, we invested in their third, follow-up fund in 2015. The fund invests in institutes that lend smaller amounts of money, often as little as a few thousand Swedish kronor, to micro-companies that may consist of perhaps just one person who need to invest, for example, in a new sewing machine.