UCT GSB launches trailblazing legal course in SA

The first impact investment course for lawyers in South Africa is launching at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) - aimed at increasing knowledge and promoting opportunities in the field of impact investment.

Companies, investors and legal practitioners concerned with making the world safer, more sustainable and more equitable through impact investment will soon be able to get more tools to do so efficiently and effectively – on the new Legal Practice for Impact Investing course, convened by the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship (a specialised centre at the UCT Graduate School of Business) which is being held in both Cape Town and Johannesburg. This is the first time a course of this kind will be run in South Africa.

“Impact investment is growing at a rapid pace, both globally and in South Africa, and as more international funding becomes available with demands for better social and environmental as well as financial returns, there will be a need for legal expertise to craft the kind of agreements and deals that will ensure these outcomes are realised,” says Dr Susan de Witt, course convenor on the programme.

The Global Steering Group for Impact Investing (GSG) predicts that $3 trillion will be invested globally in high impact assets by 2030. The South African National Task Force for Impact Investing, which is part of the GSG, has been tasked with accelerating the growth of the market in South Africa specifically. According to the recently published African Investing for Impact Barometer, almost $30 billion in financial assets on the continent is invested in impact, with 57 South African fund managers claiming to do so.

And the industry is growing. The recent announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa that he wants to attract $100 billion worth of investment for the country - for economic growth, job creation and social development – is a case in point.

“The tide is turning all over the world in terms of companies and individuals who demand healthy communities and a safer and cleaner world,” says Dr de Witt. “Not only are consumer patterns changing, but also investment patterns are different. For instance, millennials, who stand to benefit from the largest ever intergenerational transfer of wealth, are most concerned about climate and inequality, and pension fund beneficiaries are forcing trustees to take sustainable long-term positions in companies.”

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