ARUN Newsletter No. 34 March 2014

YUNUS

In this Newsletter, we explain ARUN’s activities and social investment.We have diverse subscribers; those who are interested in social investment and those who are interested in Cambodia.

Together, let’s deepen our understanding of “social investment that bridges developing countries and us”!

March 2014

In This Issue

<1> Foreword 

<2> Series: Social Evaluation

<3> Series: Book Review for Understanding Social Investment

<4> News

<5> Editor’s Note

 

 

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<1>Foreword

Thank you for your continual support for ARUN.
ARUN is a Limited Liability Company with 98 investors (private and incorporated).
We aim to support social enterprises in developing countries through investments, while building a social investment platform originating in Japan.

In the beginning of this month, in Cambodia, I had an opportunity to participate in a panel discussion with Professor Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate. The large event hall in the Cambodia-Japan Cooperation Center was filled with Cambodian youth who are interested in “the social business.” I was honored to take part in the discussion with distinguished social entrepreneurs in Cambodia including Mr. Sebastien Marot, the founder of the Friends International, a social enterprise that saves lives and provides training to the marginalized children & youth, and Mr. Chay Lo, co-founder of 1001 Fontaines, a social enterprise that purifies and sells drinking water in the rural area. I must admit that restaurants run by the Friends International as part of their vocational training program, is one of my favorites in Cambodia.

Some of Mr. Yunus’s messages were particularly encouraging: “Don’t get scared if you don’t know something”, “Don’t feel scared about challenging things” and “Reverse the question” When he started the Grameen Bank, everyone told him that it was crazy to lend money to the poor, and that it was impossible to lend money without collateral. Professor Yunus believed that a new system was needed and did the opposit way. “Conventional bank go to the rich, we go to the poor, conventional bank go to men, we go to women. Since we do not have collateral we do not need lawyers!” The messages were so clear.

ARUN is also creating a new system of social investment one step at a time. Unlike traditional investment or charity, we have strived to gain both social and financial returns with methods that enable investments without a complicated financial licence. We obtained the money lending licence last year and are able to perform lending now, but on the other hand, the regulations that we must follow as a registered business have also increased. As we step up, we must face more challenges against conventional way of doing things. From the conversations with Professor Yunus, I was reminded of ARUN’s mission and encouraged to go forward with fellow entrepreneurs.

Please join us in creating a new social investment platform!

Satoko Kono

<2>Series: Social Evaluation

What is the criteria of “success” in social investment and impact investment? – Mounting Importance of Social Monitoring and Evaluation.

By Takara Tsuzaki, ARUN Partner



In this segment, I want to explore “success” in the context of social investment; what constitute of, and how we judge “success.” In the previous segment, I introduced ARUN’s social monitoring and evaluation methods, its time-frame, and the indicators used in the investment projects. Then, the question is; “if each indicator scores high, is it a good investment?” From my experience, the answer is; “it is not that simple.”

The ultimate purpose of ARUN’s investment is to pay close attention to the background of the investment project and find its meaning, to understand thoroughly what types of change the entrepreneur is trying to make in the society, and to corroborate in the challenge in the form of investment.

<3> Book Review: Understanding Social Investment

Reviewed by K.S. at ARUN Tokyo Office

A book that came to my mind when searching for a title for “understanding social investment” is Shugoro Yamamoto’s historical novel, “The Back Gate Is Open (Ura no kido wa aiteiru).” It is a short story that depicts a samurai who works as a head of the cashier’s office in an imaginary clan in the Edo period (first published in Kodansha Club, 1955).

<4>News

■(1) A story appeared in the Nikkei Newspaper about a Junior High School which is helped by the company ARUN invests.

A company in which ARUN invests in Cambodia calledLES, a company with a business to distribute solar panels in the areas without electricity, installed solar panels in a public junior high school near Angkor Wat. In the story that introduce the process of building the junior high school, neither LES nor ARUN are mentioned by names, but it is a good story that we would like to share.



■(2) We created the “Social Investment School” introduction page.

The first series of the Social Investment School to learn about social investment systematically has ended with much compliments from the participants. The registration for the second series will start soon with 10 limited seats.



■(3) [Announcement] “ARUN Seed”, an NPO has established.

We have been working on the establishment of a structure which ARUN LLC. handles the practicals of the social investment and the NPO, ARUN Seed supports ARUN LLC.’s activities with research. We are happy to report that on March 10th, we granted the permission for its establishment. We will let you know more details soon.

■(4) Our Friend’s Request

ARUN partner, Mr. Morita reached out to us with the following message: “My friend is an intern at a startup company in San Francisco named MiCMALi, ‘Games with Social Missions,’ “Collaborating with BRAC, the globally known NGO in Bangladesh, this company is developing a microfinance game similar to the Sim City called World Agent BRAC, and has started crowdfunding. “My friend is asking to ‘like’ the company on Facebook.” We are posting this message almost exactly as Mr. Morita puts it. If you are interested in the Sim City or Microfinance, please check it out!

<5>Editor’s Note

ARUN Cambodia Office is manned with two local staff. They provide advice to the entrepreneurs who are hoping to receive investment in their businesses (such as “I need an annual budget document. Can you make one?” or “Let’s discuss the project’s impact in society.”) They are the crucial bridge between Japanese investors and Cambodian businesses that are invested, and also carry on the assignments to listen to the customers’ voices of the invested businesses.

For example, as we mentioned in this newsletter (1), one of ARUN’s investments, LES sells solar panels. The local ARUN staff took a trip to ask the customers of LES a question; “Has anything in your daily life changed since you bought the solar panels?” The staff, who is a city boy from the capital Phnom Penh reported that he was touched to see the brightly lighted houses of the solar panel customers in the rural area without electricity. Reading such a report, I find myself inadvertently moved as well.
(K.S.)

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