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How a Sustainability Focus Can Move Mountains

It’s official; 2023 is set to be the hottest year on record. Scorching temperatures, soaring inflation, major conflicts and geopolitical tensions are signs of the current times, as challenges ‘heat up’ worldwide.

In this uncertain climate, there’s been a massive upsurge in sustainability-led agendas as companies, globally, reprioritise purpose-and-profit. Locally, Sanlam Investments is committed to becoming Africa’s leading sustainable investment house, steadfast in the belief that investments should foster strong returns – financial and social. Money moves mountains. Those who influence its flow can contribute to a better future for everyone to inherit.

Carl Roothman, CEO of Sanlam Investments, says, “This Heritage Month, we’re reflecting on the ideas of heritage and inheritance. Think about the children in your life. What are we encouraging them to fight for? This is humanity’s last chance to prevent irreparable damage to our people and planet. Focusing on sustainability should be a moral imperative. At Sanlam Investments, we believe the privilege of influence comes with the responsibility to impact. At scale. In ways that’ll create lasting ripples of change.”

As the recipient of 2023’s Sustainable Asset Manager Award, Sanlam Investments has long known what McKinsey research has just revealed: ‘Not only can you do well while doing good; you can do better’. McKinsey advocates for a ‘triple play of growth, profit and sustainability’ to catalyse outperformance. Similarly, Sanlam Investments has long been pioneering new ways for investors to further causes they care about, while getting robust returns. This creates virtuous, sustainable cycles of change that have a tangible impact on Africa and beyond.

Roothman adds, “We integrate ESG factors into our investment processes across all asset classes. We leverage our assets under management, currently just under R1 trillion, to positively impact people and the planet, through a multifactor approach, which addresses several shared challenges in a way that amplifies impact. We urge others to join us in creating positive change.”

Roothman says that a sustainability approach means tackling many shared challenges simultaneously. Here are some of the focal areas for Sanlam Investments.


The Just Energy Transition requires creativity, vision, and unwavering commitment. The move to clean energy could generate an additional quarter-of-a-million jobs and add R150 billion in gross value to the nation’s economy over 25 years. Sanlam Investments is helping to drive the shift by supporting the SA-H2 Fund, South Africa’s Dedicated Green Hydrogen Fund, which will fast-track construction of large-scale infrastructure assets.

Additionally, the Sanlam Investments Sustainable Infrastructure Fund, with starting commitments of R500 million, aims to attract R5 billion to invest in environmentally sustainable local projects, with a focus on renewables.

Protecting the Planet

Climate Fund Managers (co-owned by Sanlam Infraworks) recently closed the largest debt-for-climate conversion in history, to protect the Galapagos Islands. The funding will protect the precious Hermandad Marine Reserve, support community development initiatives, and help reduce the harmful impact of pollution on the marine environment.

Generating and Preserving Jobs

South Africa’s SMME sector is the backbone of the nation’s economy, contributing 34% of GDP and employing up to 60% of the country’s workforce. SMMEs’ success is critical to South Africa’s success. Recognising this, Sanlam Investments has focused on SMME support by job creation and preservation, as well as debt funding.

For example, Sanlam Private Equity, the private equity division of Sanlam Investments, seeks to invest in companies that empower disadvantaged groups, especially women, and to generate job opportunities. Since inception and through its current investee companies in Cavalier Group, Absolute Pets, Q Link Holdings and SkipWaste, Sanlam Private Equity has helped preserve 2,421 jobs and create a further 481 direct and permanent jobs. The private equity division also recently acquired a majority stake in Danny’s Auto Body Parts (Danny’s Auto), a provider of a wide range of high-quality aftermarket automotive parts and accessories for various vehicle types and models in South Africa and other sub-Saharan countries. Through this acquisition, an additional 270 jobs will be preserved with a further 50 direct jobs expected during the investment period.

Creating Conversation

Conversation is critical to making change happen. Sanlam Investments recently hosted its latest Critical Conversations webinar, to stage thought-provoking panel discussions around big topics like the energy transition and impact investment. These regular conversations have played an instrumental part in bringing different stakeholders together to strategise sustainable solutions to some of the continent’s most insurmountable challenges.

Roothman concludes, “Sanlam was ranked a leading investment manager in the 2023 Impact Barometer. We take our sustainability agenda extremely seriously – it’s embedded into our Group’s purpose to empower all Africans to live with confidence. Confidence comes from knowing that we’re doing everything we can to leave a positive legacy for emerging generations. It comes from actively manifesting the world we want our children to inherit. It’s not too late. Together, we really can move the needle and change the course of history.”


Sanlam Investments consists of the following authorised Financial Services Providers: Sanlam Investment Management (Pty) Ltd (“SIM”), Sanlam Multi Manager International (Pty) Ltd (“SMMI”), Satrix Managers (RF) (Pty) Ltd, Graviton Wealth Management (Pty) Ltd (“GWM”), Graviton Financial Partners (Pty) Ltd (“GFP”), Satrix Investments (Pty) Ltd, Amplify Investment Partners (Pty) Ltd (“Amplify”), Sanlam Africa Real Estate Advisor Pty Ltd (“SAREA”), Simeka Wealth (Pty) Ltd, Absa Asset Management (Pty) Ltd (“ABAM”) and Absa Alternative Asset Management (Pty) Ltd (“AAM”); and has the following approved Management Companies under the Collective Investment Schemes Control Act: Sanlam Collective Investments (RF) (Pty) Ltd (“SCI”), Satrix Managers (RF) (Pty) Ltd (“Satrix”) and Absa Fund Managers (RF) (Pty) Ltd. Sanlam is a full member of ASISA. Please note that past performances are not necessarily an accurate determination of future performances, and that the value of investments/collective investment units/unit trusts may go down as well as up.

The information in this article does not constitute financial advice. While every effort has been made to ensure the reasonableness and accuracy of the information contained in this document (“the information”), the FSPs, their shareholders, subsidiaries, clients, agents, officers and employees do not make any representations or warranties regarding the accuracy or suitability of the information and shall not be held responsible and disclaim all liability for any loss, liability and damage whatsoever suffered as a result of or which may be attributable, directly or indirectly, to any use of or reliance upon the information.

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