By Ken Mehlman Aug 22, 2016
Today’s global challenges can be addressed—and in some cases transformed into opportunities—when the best thinking and resources partner together. At KKR, we believe that we have a role to play as investors in helping address key pressing societal challenges. That is why our sixth annual Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) and Citizenship Report focuses on five global challenges and opportunities that we, our portfolio companies and our investors are tackling.
Investors can play a central role in resolving some of the global challenges in a way that civil society or government organizations cannot do alone. The five areas we address in this year’s report are: 1) adapting to climate change, 2) supporting better agriculture, 3) treating and preventing disease, 4) investing in infrastructure, and 5) managing resource constraints. We address how we see KKR’s investments and programs within this broad global framework.
Our portfolio company Afriflora is a good example. In our report, we explain how our investment in Afriflora promotes economic development through supporting better agriculture, one of our five global challenges. Located in Ethiopia, Afriflora cultivates and produces Fair Trade Certified, sustainably grown roses. With the help of KKR’s expertise on geopolitics, stakeholder engagement and incorporating ESG into company governance and operations, we have worked to strengthen Afriflora’s contributions to economic growth and social advancement in Ethiopia. Afriflora launched community development initiatives focused on health and education for its workers and their families, and is now one of the largest employers in Ethiopia with more than 12,000 workers in its direct operations. Complementing KKR’s commitment, the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, invested in the company for further growth and expansion.
Our investments behind food safety in China (such as Modern Dairy, Yuehai Feed Group, and COFCO Meat) and urban water infrastructure in the United States (such as in Bayonne, NJ and Middletown, PA) are more examples of investments that are part of the solution to key challenges—and reflect close relationships between investors, governments and the larger community. Collaboration with NGOs focused on environmental and social change – including Environmental Defense Fund, Business for Social Responsibility, American Heart Association, Transparency International, among others—informs and enhances our work with these and other companies.
In today’s world, we have some big problems to solve. Investors can be part of the solution, particularly when we partner with each other, governments, NGOs and other stakeholders.