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Articles | 14.6.2022

Sustainable investing creates impact

In addition to profitability, more and more investors want to support the social and global impact of businesses. Saga Forss is an angel investor for whom welfare and environmental issues in particular form an important value base that guides investment.

Saga Forss is a financial specialist, board professional and angel investor specializing in acquisitions.

Following the startup world for more than 10 years, Forss says that investors are increasingly interested in businesses that solve global problems and increase wellbeing.

– Slowing down climate change, clean energy solutions, population growth and the availability of clean water, Forss lists the most important themes.

Business profitability and returns are still important to investors, but alongside these, corporate responsibility has become important. From an investment perspective, it is already the starting point for a profitable business.

– If you want to make a profitable investment today, you must make sure that business responsibility, such as environmental and social issues, is in order, Forss reminds.

Angel investor Saga Forss.

Investors are now listening closely to consumer expectations. It is almost impossible to get investors involved in a business that is in some way harmful to nature or society.

– If the product or service does not meet today’s standards, then it can’t be sold. That is why consumers have a lot of influence to bring about change, Forss emphasizes.

Welfare and environmental issues at the center

For Forss, investing responsibly means the opportunity to support startups that are in line with their own values, with people’s wellbeing and environmental issues playing an important role.

– If I can imagine myself as a customer, I can imagine others. Passion and enthusiasm for the business idea is important, as it takes a lot of time to explore the investment opportunities for a company and become familiar with market potential and risks, she describes.

Forss does not aim to build an extensive investment portfolio, but rather to be active and committed in a few important companies.

– Responsible and good food and related innovations have fascinated me for a long time. Now, I am involved in Soup+More, which offers healthy lunches, as well as in the Swedish Mycorena and the Finnish Dear Waste startup, both of which utilize the by-products of the food industry, Forss says.

– And then, of course, there is the Cahkal Hotel, she says excitedly.

Values led to new business areas

Value-based investing can lead to surprising twists and turns. Although Forss has not been interested in real estate investment, her latest project is a hotel in the northwestern “arm” of Finnish Lapland. Opening its doors in June, the Cahkal Hotel is a state-of-the-art “home base” in the middle of the wilderness for anyone who enjoys active outdoor and adventure sports.

– I never thought about investing in real estate. Ever. But when I visited the site, I was impressed by nature in the area. Cahkal Hotel also gave me the answers to how I can practice my favorite sports without straining the environment. There was a feeling that I could spend the rest of my life here doing outdoor activities, Forss says.

Hotel entrepreneurs are experts in the hospitality industry, while investors are people in the financial sector who are passionate about outdoor sports and for whom environmental issues are important.

– The hotel and service concepts have been thought through to the last detail, considering the environmental impact. Thanks to geothermal energy and solar panels, we are about 50% self-sufficient in energy. In food procurement, we pay attention to the responsibility of production, and if possible, we prefer raw materials produced close by, Forss lists examples.

Technology solutions complemented by responsible services

From the investor’s point of view, Finland’s hallmark is technology orientation. Regardless of the industry, everything that includes new technology solutions is attracting interest – this is also the case in the welfare sector.

– In the eyes of the investor, the business field of sports, health and wellbeing is already quite clearly divided. Healthtech and sportech companies like Oura and Firstbeat are attracting the attention of investors, while interest in business focused on traditional sports or wellbeing is waning, Forss estimates.

Read also: How startups can open the funding taps of European superangels.

Saga Forss at the “Sport Meets Business” event in Jyväskylä.

According to Forss, despite technology-driven thinking, Finns need to improve on utilization of the potential to increase the impactfulness of their service offering, such as responsible services.

This is also an opportunity for companies in the welfare sector, as responsibility and impactfulness are often built into them.

– Cahkal Hotel is a good example of how even the more traditional wellness and physical exercise services business can receive investments when it is based on responsibility. Without an environmentally conscious, responsible business concept, customers would hardly arrive.

– Accountability and impactfulness can sometimes be difficult to translate into numbers. But if you must choose between two companies, one with a strong responsibility angle and the other without it, the responsible company will be chosen, Forss confirms.

Watch Saga Forss’s inspiring speech “How to Combine Passion for Sports with
Sustainable Investing” in the Sport Meets Business recording at 2:31.

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