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The Eco Hotel Phenomenon and Donald Trump’s observations

December 10, 2018

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What turns a run of the mill, resource hungry hotel into an Eco Hotel and why does it matter? Well, the clue lies partly in the question: an Eco Hotel isn’t resource hungry at all. Instead of gobbling away at all before it, an Eco Hotel sips and nibbles at its key resources: energy, water and raw materials. Eco Hotels are hard wired to save water and minimise on energy and waste material usage. But what about the second part of the question: why does any of this matter? Look no further than last week’s US National Climate Change Assessment, the work of 300 scientists and 13 Federal Agencies which concluded that “ Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilisation, primarily as a result of human activities…” Donald Trump may have dismissed the three-inch thick report out of hand as “largely based on the most extreme scenario”, but virtually nobody else is.

And for a President so intent on wrapping himself in a mantle of economic competence (and hotel owner to boot), the supreme irony is that key policies at the heart of a concerted response to adverse climate change are now proving to be drivers of commercial growth too. Eco Hotels are a case in point.

By definition, a non resource hungry hotel will also have reduced operating costs: it’s also likely to have reduced liabilities, will generally produce a higher return on relatively low risk investments and also deliver greater profitability across the board than its more resource hungry counterparts. Those are the hard conclusions arrived at in the seminal sector report for the subcontinent “Green Hotels and Sustainable Hotel Operations in India” and, perhaps inevitably, the markets haven’t been slow to see their potential either. Green hotels are more popular than ever on the subcontinent and if you need solid evidence of that, look no further than the explosive growth of Lemon Tree Hotels after the company’s successful IPO earlier this year.

Donald Trump could usefully brush up on his bedtime reading before leaving the West Wing to resume control of his own hotel chain …

The travelling public (business and leisure) is now increasingly aware of the importance of environmental compliance when it comes to choosing a hotel room, and the current surge in demand on the subcontinent is running well ahead of supply: not least because India’s tourist numbers have reached unprecedented levels in absolute terms as well.

But when it comes to meeting this burgeoning demand in practice, something much more is required than simply re-branding an existing hotel with “green credentials”. Key consumption variables have to be built in from the very beginning of the construction phase: making water saving devices and waste reduction part of the DNA of the hotel from the outset of the project. That’s why Eco Hotels are being built with solar tubing that reflects light across the hotel day and night, resulting in electricity bills that are roughly half those of a conventional hotel and its properties also has a single kitchen which dramatically reduces the carbon footprint. All those savings go straight to the bottom line.

Red Ribbon is the founder of Eco Hotels, the world’s first carbon neutral hotel brand which offers “green hospitality” as part of a progressive roll out across India designed to take advantage of current market opportunities on the subcontinent. The brand meets all key sustainability criteria without compromising on either quality or standards of hospitality and is designed to cater for commercial and recreational travellers alike.

Red Ribbon CEO, Suchit Punnose said:

The boom in Indian tourism (both domestically and internationally) is currently playing a huge part in driving forward the subcontinent’s resurgent hotel and hospitality sector, and as the article says eco credentials are playing a bigger part than ever in determining where this burgeoning tide of travellers are deciding to stay. Recent surveys confirm so called “green credentials” are high up on the scale of priorities when they come to make their choice.

And as the article also says, meeting that demand is certainly not just a matter of a last minute rebranding. To deliver properly on green credentials, the hotel has to be built with eco compliance as part of its structure (from the ground up). Only by doing this will cost savings and sustainability criteria properly come together in the future operation of the hotel, delivering the range of benefits described in the article.

I’m proud that Eco Hotels have done just that from the very beginning of the project, and proud too of the part Red Ribbon has played in developing the brand and its ambitions in the succeeding years, spearheading an environmentally friendly response to India’ resurgent tourism demands.

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Time matters with India’s Real Estate revitalisation

December 10, 2018

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KPMG reported last month that Indian Real Estate Sector has now entered a “revitalisation mode”, with aggregate growth projected to reach $ 650 Billion by 2025 and topping $850 Billion by 2028: the average yearly contribution of real estate to the Indian economy will more than double from its current 7% by 2025. And CBRE India are equally optimistic: in their own quarterly report, snappily titled “India Real Estate: Variance in Construction Costs”, they forecast 17 Million new jobs will be added to the sector and an additional 8.2 Billion square feet of space released by 2025.  It all resonates well with the ambitions objectives of Prime Minister Modi’s Affordable Housing Programme, with Real Estate now set firmly in growth mode, and growing stronger every year. But there’s a dark shadow in the garden…

Each of these influential reports has highlighted a potential issue relating to construction costs on the subcontinent, capable of acting as a brake on growth and with no less than six major conurbations (Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Delhi) causing particular concern. Perhaps predictably, Mumbai tops the list of areas where unit construction costs have spiralled over recent years and show little sign of slowing down despite the broadly stabilizing effect of GST legislation introduced by the Modi Administration which helped smooth out some of the worst supply and pricing differentials across the country.

The average cost of construction for a residential apartment in Mumbai is now Rs 3,125 per square foot, compared to the Rs 2,375 per square foot the same apartment will cost in Hyderabad. At one (macro) level the reason for all this is obvious: an increasingly urbanised population pushing up demand for units in the largest conurbations as part of a gradual drift away from the land, but the disparity in relative costs between conurbations is still striking. Inter market differentials of this kind are likely to be caused primarily to an uneven distribution of construction skills, with highly skilled workers drawn to areas of greater demand so increasing the unit cost of labour in specific areas of the subcontinent. Certainly we might expect other variables such as recent sharp rises in the wholesale price of steel to be more uniformly spread across the country.

In short, construction is becoming progressively more expensive in the very areas where more housing and commercial units are likely to be needed most…and that’s a real dilemma.

One answer is to make greater use of just in time delivery systems which are capable of dramatically reducing overall construction schedules: simple maths tells us that if an expensive worker is on site for a quarter of the normal building phase, costs will come down no matter how prohibitive the daily rate. And of course we have now grown used to the significance of just in time methodologies because of the prominence the issue has assumed as part of the current Brexit debate. Just as any significant inhibition on frictionless trade has potential to throw the UK economy into chaos after Brexit, so too the same frictionless technologies can help address systemic cost differentials across the Indian construction sector as well.

Modular Construction prefabricates all of the essential components of the building off site, everything from exterior walls, ventilation systems and internal wiring networks with the parts then arriving on location only when they’re needed: meaning field workers aren’t left waiting around (expensively) for the next phase of the project to get underway. Research has shown that through a combination of just in time delivery techniques and modular technology, otherwise complex units such as student accommodation blocks or hospitals can be erected on site in days rather than the months and sometimes years of conventional technologies. And an added advantage is that Modular Technology also reduces the potential for human error and snagging in the final building which can also be a major but hidden expense on any project.

Modulex Construction is the World’s largest and India’s first Steel Modular Building Company, setting out to meet the challenges posed by India’s urban housing shortages in a practical and dynamic manner. The company is at the heart of a project established by Red Ribbon to harness the potential of India’s markets and delivering opportunities for investors. Because, when it comes to investing on the subcontinent, nobody knows India and its markets better than Red Ribbon.

Red Ribbon CEO, Suchit Punnose said:

Prime Minister Modi has successfully appealed to the youthful and increasingly urbanised population that is currently driving India’s economic growth, not least through his Government’s re-energised Affordable Housing Programme the scale and scope of which has at times been breathtaking. So it should come as no surprise to learn that such an increasingly mobile population is also creating real estate hot spots (and cost differentials) through being attracted to a number of specific locations: by definition, a mobile population is difficult to keep still.

So as it seems to me the resulting cost differentials in construction across the subcontinent are likely to be a fact of life for some years to come yet. But that’s certainly not to diminish the problem, and cost disparities are a problem in India’s most expensive real estate markets, Mumbai in particular. They have real potential to distort the market.

In delivering a workable solution to that challenge most expert commentators now agree that Modular Construction is simply inescapable. No other technology offers the pace and scale of delivery needed to meet India’s housing needs and, as the article points out, it is the perfect corollary for just in time delivery systems. That’s why Red Ribbon was committed to Modulex Construction from the very beginning of the project and we remain committed to it today. I’m convinced it is not only a vital element in meeting market challenges but will also deliver on the unprecedented opportunities currently presented by the subcontinent’s burgeoning economy.

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How and why mid-market hotels are taking over India’s branded sector

December 10, 2018

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In the late 1980’s Esso commissioned a survey of its UK customers and found less than 7% travelled onto Mainland Europe with their cars. Why this reticence on the part of families clearly capable of making their way from Poole to Provence in an overcrowded Metro? And no, it’s not what you think: back in those days we hadn’t even thought of Brexit. As Esso found out, there was a more homely explanation: the Continent simply had far fewer automated pumps on its forecourts, so drivers were in danger of having to talk with an attendant and you know how the English are with languages. Better leave the car behind than risk the unseemly spectacle of sign language on the forecourt with a Frenchman.

And when you think about it, that’s all quite interesting. It’s the reason petrol stations have gradually come to look exactly the same all over the world: with the pumps all roughly in the same place, all self service and roughly the same kind of shop to pay in. It’s why you can now buy a burger (from a screen) in identical McDonalds outlets from Vienna to Vladivostok without once having to speak a word of German or Russian, and it’s why Esso long made sure you can buy your petrol the same way. There’s simply no need to leave the car at home anymore…so we don’t. We buy more petrol instead and everyone’s happy.

Economists call this phenomenon Brand Synergy and until recently India’s mid-market Hotel Sector was widely perceived to be more or less dead to its charms. A senior analyst on the subcontinent memorably (and anonymously) put it as follows: “…it was like an airline that uses a Boeing 747 for travel between Delhi and Mumbai, a Dakota for Kolkata-Delhi, and a Dornier for Bengaluru-Pune”. The poor old travellers never knew what to expect when they got there. Just like trying to buy petrol by word of mouth.

But not anymore…

The subcontinent’s mid-market Hotels including Ibis Styles, Lemon Tree Hotels and Eco Hotels have all made progress over the last decade in adopting a much more uniform approach to product profiling, achieving a consistency in specification that has now seen the mid-market secure nearly half the branded hotel sector: spurred on, no doubt, by an increasing number of private equity investors, none of whom are noted for being slow in recognising brand synergies when they see them.

All of which has made the mid-market uniquely well placed to take advantage of the surge in India’s middle class and increasingly urbanised travellers that has doubled airline occupancy rates over the last seven years.  And with the average cost of building a mid-market room coming in at between Rs 3 Million and Rs 7 Million, breaking even within six years, it all makes bottom line economic sense too. Compare that with the larger branded chains where average construction cost for each room is Rs 15 Million and break even takes 15 years: more than twice as long.  In the past 10 years alone the mid-market has expanded at more than 15% annually (according to Howarth HTL) and now accounts for 43% of total branded stock.

Having got away its successful IPO earlier this year (raising Rs 311 Crore from key investors), Lemon Tree Hotels last week took the trend a stage further by launching its brand overseas: signing a deal for the first of its hotels to open in Dubai next year. It will be the first mid-market hotel on the luxury studded Al Wasi Road, sitting literally in the shadow of the Burj Al Arab and Al Waleed Real Estate’s CEO didn’t miss the significance:  “There was a need for a mid-market hotel of this calibre in this location and India has been the largest source of tourists into Dubai, as well as the UAE as a whole, for over three years now.” To save you Googling it up, the exact figure is 13%: India now accounts for a whopping 13% of total tourist numbers into the Emirates, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody given the subcontinent’s wealth and proximity as well as the population’s found mobility.

And now they’ll recognise at least one familiar, distinctively Indian hotel brand when they get there…Plus ca change.

Red Ribbon Asset Management is the founder of Eco Hotels, the world’s first carbon neutral mid-market hotel brand, offering “green hospitality” as part of a progressive roll out across India which intended to take full advantage of current market opportunities on the subcontinent. The brand offers sustainable living without compromising on standards of hospitality and is designed to cater to commercial and recreational travellers alike.

Red Ribbon CEO, Suchit Punnose said:

Working as part of the Eco Hotels Project has certainly taught me the importance of branding and product profiling in the hospitality sector, so I was pleased to read about the renewed emphasis on branding generally and unsurprised to see that it has now increased the mid-market share to just shy of 50%. Monolithic 2000 room hotel chains are no longer the first choice for travellers, especially given all the evidence suggests they are increasingly looking for accommodation that also complements their preference for sustainability.

And that’s important because the boom in Indian tourism (domestically and internationally) is playing a significant part in driving forward the subcontinent’s resurgent hotel and hospitality sector. It’s certainly an area that cannot be overlooked when seeking out the best investment opportunities over the coming years.

That’s why I’m very proud that Red Ribbon has played such a significant role in the creation and development of the Eco Hotels Project, spearheading the response to that demand in an environmentally friendly manner.

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Modular Construction: the answer to the shortage of skills in India

December 10, 2018

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Most Indians work in agriculture but next comes construction, and according to the latest Economic Survey the subcontinent’s real estate and construction sector is likely to create more than 15 Million jobs over the next five years, that’s three million every year. To put that in perspective less than 3 Million people are currently employed in the entire UK construction industry. And of the 52 Million building workers employed by Indian companies, 90% are involved in on-site construction with the other 10% busily painting, plumbing and wiring the finished product. It’s fair to say all these painters, plumbers and electricians are skilled workers…but not so the other 90%.

Because the vast majority of India’s construction workers are either minimally skilled or have no skills at all: an astonishing 97% of them aged between 15 and 65 will receive no formal training of any kind before starting work on site and, plumbers and painters aside, most of the skilled workers won’t be getting any cement dust on their boots because they’re probably office based clerks, technicians and engineers. And that’s a real problem…

It’s a problem, because coming the other way down India’s infrastructure and logistics superhighway is an unprecedented surge in demand for urban housing, fuelled by an increasingly urbanised population projected to become the biggest on the planet by 2022. India’s National Skill Development Council predicts that by then the real estate and construction sector will require a workforce of more than 66 Million, so without any obvious core of skilled workers currently able to sustain anything like growth it’s no wonder the sector is starting to show signs of stress.

Of course all this was supposed to be addressed by 2016’s Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act which was intended to act as a platform for local, State driven planning capable of creating an appropriate environment for improved training and regulatory structures, but so far six States out of 29 have failed to produce any plans at all under the legislation which means finding workers with the right skills in the right place will continue to be a source of real concern.

Billionaire developer Niranjan Hiranandani, head of Hiranandani Construction, has a simple enough solution: just pay unskilled workers less and reap the savings while you can. But that’s not a particularly attractive solution for anyone buying one of his apartments 76 floors up in the Mumbai skyline where quality assurance is far from being a dispensable extra. The behemoth that is Hindustan Construction Company perhaps takes a slightly more realistic approach, going on record last week to say that skills shortages have become a huge problem for the sector: 50% of its workforce needs advanced training just to use the complex machinery now prevalent on most modern building sites. With a heavy tone of understatement a spokesman for the company announced grandly that given these skilled workers are not available, “the only option is to train them”.

Well, it’s not quite the only option…

With no actual shortage of workers seeking employment in India’s urban conurbations, particularly in the light of a seemingly inexorable drift of former agricultural workers from country to town, what if the physical construction process itself could be de-skilled? Why not make a virtue of necessity and draw on this pool of former agricultural labourers to release the margins of between 20% to 70% that Deloitte India predict would follow from a wholesale deskilling initiative? These savings would go straight to the bottom line without endangering the quality and safety of the finished building. Skilled construction workers earn Rs 1,000 a day as opposed to their unskilled counterparts who earn an average of Rs 200.

And there is just such a business model on the market right now, a model with the potential to uncouple construction projects from a seemingly insoluble skills conundrum: it’s called Modular Construction.

Modern Modular technologies allow all of the building’s key components to be put together off site by specialist workers and then assembled locally at the same time as the site works are completed, not only reducing overall completion schedules by as much as 50% but also significantly reducing the need for skilled workers in the construction phase. All of the design and engineering disciplines are instead concentrated at the offsite manufacturing facility leading to labour, financing and supervision costs. Which will all be music to Mr Hiranandani’s ears…

Modulex Construction is the World’s largest and India’s first Steel Modular Construction Company, meeting the challenges of the subcontinent’s current urban housing shortages in a practical and focused manner. The company was founded by Red Ribbon as part of an innovative project to harness the potential of India’s dynamic and evolving real estate markets whilst at the same time delivering opportunities for investors through Red Ribbon platform. Because, when it comes to investing on the subcontinent, nobody knows India’s markets better than Red Ribbon.

Red Ribbon CEO, Suchit Punnose said:

Delivering on India’s stringent housing targets over the next five years presents an enormous challenge for the subcontinent, and that challenge is likely to get more testing still given the underlying demographics of a rapidly increasing and ever more urbanised population. Existing skills shortages within the construction sector have the potential to be a crucial block to meeting these targets, especially given the scale and scope of the training programmes necessary to release a further 3 Million workers into the sector every year for the next five years: never mind the attendant costs which are likely to be eye watering on any basis.

That’s why to my mind the answer has to be Modular Construction. No conventional technologies can beat it for sheer pace of delivery and, with a centralising of skilled labour in the offsite manufacturing facility, it will beat conventional construction methods hands down on overall profitability too.

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Eco Hospitality as part of India’s Climate Change Agenda

September 14, 2018

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What exactly do we mean by Eco Hospitality? McDonalds has its own unique take on things, announcing plans to serve rice at tourist resorts on the subcontinent: rice with extruded cheese or spicy packet sauce. Take your pick. And PepsiCo India has a global sustainability agenda as well, planning to reduce the size of its Lays and Kurkure snacks in a valiant effort to “limit the company’s global footprint”. No sign yet of any plans to reduce the price of the smaller bags though. But beneath these slightly risible gestures there is a serious point. We have all witnessed the cruel after effects of the recent monsoons in Kerala, which have displaced hundreds of thousands and claimed the lives of hundreds more. And global warming is widely identified as a key factor behind the unusually heavy rainfalls.

So its welcome news that with or without extruded cheese on our rice and smaller bags of crisps, the subcontinent is already working at the forefront of global climate change policies, especially since the United States withdrew from the Paris Climate Accords last year, and India certainly knows what Eco Hospitality means because Eco Tourism is now an integral part of its economy.

Take one small example: operating at the epicentre of this month’s flooding in Kerala, the Tourism Department announced an initiative last month which will literally light up tourist spots by installing solar powered street units, including along the entire length of the beautiful Kovalam Beach where LED lighting systems link the seashore to local thoroughfares. The solar units are also hooked up to the Internet through a mobile app that will monitor power usage and report in if units are damaged or tampered with. It all costs Rs 31 Lakh but will save the State much more in electricity costs and, much more importantly, will help preserve the State’s precious environment for the future. There are also plans to extend the project to Varkala and Akkulam.

It might seem slight and insignificant given the scale of the recent disaster, but when Kerala recovers (as it will), it is one step further forward towards addressing the environmental issues that contributed to last week’s events. And on any basis it’s a lot better than extruded cheese and a bag of crisps.

Another good example of an Indian business looking to work in harmony with its environment is Lemon Tree Hotels where every hotel in its chain on the subcontinent will now adopt a stray dog from the local area and give it a home in the lobby. As history tells us, small steps can make a difference if we take them together. And as Eco Hotels has also demonstrated with its innovative “green hospitality” brand, the concept doesn’t just make environmental sense: it makes good commercial sense too, with lower operating and capital costs factoring into a leaner business model. Lemon Tree’s shares jumped 2% in a single day on 17th August, so the model is obviously working.

Red Ribbon Asset Management is the founder of Eco Hotels, the world’s first carbon neutral mid market hotel brand, offering “green hospitality” as part of a progressive roll out across India which is designed to build and expand on economies provided by the platform in conjunction with explosive growth in the Indian tourism sector (and mid market hotels in particular). The brand offers sustainable living without compromising on standards of hospitality and will cater for commercial and recreational travelers alike.

 

Red Ribbon CEO, Suchit Punnose said:

I think we were all shocked to witness the scale of the devastation that has unfolded in Kerala this month, and our best wishes and sympathies go out to all of those who have been so severely affected. But it is right too that we try to understand the reasons behind this, the worst monsoon flooding in India for more than a hundred years and its difficult to resist expert suggestions that global warming and avoidable harm to the environment could well be a major cause. So it is obviously important that we should try to do something about those long-term trends as well.

I am proud that India is working at the cutting edge of climate change policies across the globe and, in however small a way, those policies will I am sure help to make Kerala a safer and more secure, even more beautiful place to live in the future. Eco hospitality is a vital part of that equation for an area which is so heavily dependant on international and domestic tourism. As the article says, small steps taken together can change the world.

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New Sustainability Initiatives: India’s way forward

January 30, 2018

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At the close of the year, barely noticed by the world’s press, India’s Environment Minister, Harsh Vardhan, issued a major policy statement setting out the steps which the Modi Government is planning to take next to reduce air pollution in the subcontinent’s major conurbations (as well as taking a swipe at the municipal authorities in Delhi for, in his view, doing too little too late to get with his programme (but more of that in a moment)).

Vardhan outlined a series of reduced vehicle-based pollution targets, with the added imposition of new (restricted) emissions tolerances and thresholds and they will have application in all of India’s major conurbations…including Delhi.

Although these new initiatives are certainly a step in the right direction, there is (as the Minister himself admitted last month in his inaugural speech), still a lot much to be done: “The Government of India is doing its best regarding the matter… Pollution levels did not touch the severe category on 214 days this year, compared to 181 days in 2016, due to the proactive steps taken by the central government but there are certain critical issues like water sprinkling to curtail air pollution. Likewise, landfill sites are not being maintained properly”.

It was then that Vardhan took the opportunity to criticize Delhi’s local government, alleging it was not doing enough to adhere fully with the exising guidelines designed to manage environmental pollution. Naresh Agrawai (representative, not for Delhi but Uttar Pradesh so it wasn’t as though he was personally aggrieved by the comments) responded to these arch comments by inviting the Minister to refrain from criticizing farmers in his region for supposedly causing pollution through burning stubble or husks after harvest: “Farmers are blamed for causing pollution by burning stubble/husk. The government should take steps to deal with the situation, rather than blaming farmers, because vehicle/industrial emissions and others are also the reasons for it.” He suggested that Mr. Vardhan’s Government could better occupy its time by instead imposing heavier taxes on the owners of polluting four-wheel drive cars in India’s big cities.

And so it goes on: with the Modi Government blaming Delhi’s local government and the farming lobby blaming Modi’s Government and the local Delhi government signing up to the Government’s new programme and saying nothing. But at least it has signed up.

Because, of course, beneath all the politics these are deadly serious issues, so it has to be encouraging in these turbulent times to find a consensus emerging across all political classes in India: determined to do something to secure the future of the environment. All of which is also consistent with India’s new role as the world’s leading sustainability superpower and now the key remaining custodian of the precious commitments enshrined in the Paris Climate Accords.

Red Ribbon Fund Management has always placed India at the heart of its portfolio strategies. Not only because it is the most exciting Growth Market on the Planet but also because India is consistently demonstrating a commitment to environmental protection which is consistent with Red Ribbon’s own core philosophies.

So it’s good to note there is no sign of Prime Minister Modi’s Government slowing up or faltering in that commitment. The rest of the world might care to take notice…

Red Ribbon CEO, Suchit Punnose said:

The article is right to cut to the quick of a process of political manoeuvring that can all too often obscure the importance which the environmental and its proper protection has for all of us, and especially so here at Red Ribbon where the wellbeing of the planet has been at the core of our investment philosophies since the company was founded more than a decade ago.

Yes, we do live in turbulent times where the derogation of the United States from the Paris Climate Accords has made the process of environmental protection more turbulent than it used to be, but we should still recognise that the Indian Government is continuing to take a solid lead in the process in the absence of Washington’s involvement and the latest policy commitments issued by the Modi Government in December are very much to be welcomed. It is, indeed, good to see that it is not letting up in its zeal to have a positive impact on the planet’s future.

Not least because we all stand to gain from that commitment.

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How do they connect? The Hospitality sector and the adaption of a Mainstream Business Model.

November 21, 2017

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Mainstream Impact Investment is a New Economic Paradigm: actively seeking out those businesses that look to regulate the negative impacts of their activities on the communities in which they operate as well as our wider society and on the environment at large. And not just because they are required to do so as part of a regulatory, tick box exercise; but because they know this will make them more resilient over the long term, and businesses that are better equipped for the long term will do better in the short term too. That’s why Red Ribbon Asset Management has placed Mainstream Impact Investment at the heart of its portfolio management strategies since the company was founded more than a decade ago.

And a good example of just how effective a business model this can be is currently to be found in the lush foothills of the Madhya Pradesh Region in India, where a recent study into ecotourism found that by actively reducing the negative impacts of tourism on the environment, businesses in the sector would also deliver substantial benefits for local communities which can underpin their long-term viability. No less than 45% of revenues generated through ecotourism in Madhya Pradesh went directly to local communities according to the study, The Value of Wildlife Tourism for Conservation and Communities, which was conducted across the Bandhavgarh, Pench, Panna and Kanha National Parks in Madhya Pradesh earlier this year.

The Study looked at 145 eco-lodges overall, all of which provided significant income-generating opportunities for the local communities in which they were located: generating INR 166 crore each year, some INR 75 crore of which went directly to local communities (about 45% of the aggregate yield so leaving a healthy surplus for the business operators, further bearing out the viability of the model).

And at an even higher altitude, in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas to be exact and close by the Nepalese Border, you’ll find the hugely successful Shakti 360 Leti Resort which is built and operated on eco friendly principles: almost all of the units on the site run on solar power, wastewater is reused and there is an ongoing commitment to the local community with buildings being leased from the community (not bought) with the deliberate objective that the community owners can then profit from the enterprise. Again, it is a good example of a business structured so as to be resilient and robust for the long term and it is also another good example of the success of the Mainstream Impact Investment Model.

And closer to home, of course, it is a model that has also been working extremely well for Eco Hotels, the world’s first carbon-neutral, premium value hotel brand which combines all of the best features of top-grade hospitality with a commitment to doing everything possible to secure the wellbeing of the planet and the dynamism of the local communities in which it operates. Red Ribbon is the founder of Ecolodge and it has now embarked on an ambitious programme to expand the brand into the BRIC territories and India in particular. By doing this it is building still further on its core commitment to Mainstream Impact Investment strategies and at the same time delivering above market rate returns for its investors.

Red Ribbon CEO, Suchit Punnose said:

A recent major study into eco tourism in Northern India found that through actively reducing their negative impacts the environment businesses engaged in the hospitality sector could not only deliver substantial benefits for their local communities but also underpin and reinforce their own long-term commercial prospects as well. It’s a model that sits at the heart of Mainstream Investment Strategies, which recognise that long-term viability can also be a recipe for short-term business success.

Read the Value of Wildlife Tourism for Conservation and Communities Report here

Read about the Shakti 360 Leti here

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Mainstream Impact Investment: A Sea Change in the Market

November 07, 2017

business(1), Global Fund(1), Government(18), India(67), Investment(46), Mainstream Impact Investment(13), Market(3), Mckinsey(1), Pension(1), Red Ribbon(42), Strategies(2),

Businesses that set out to minimise the negative impacts of their activities on the community, our society and on the environment at large are better equipped to be successful in the long term; actively structured to meet the demands of an increasingly social market without compromising on their capacity for commercial success. Indeed, these businesses are better able to succeed commercially precisely because they are responsive to this wider social setting.

That was the conclusion reached by last month’s report from the influential research team at Mckinsey which found that more than a quarter of assets now under management globally are being invested on the premise that environmental, social, and governance issues can significantly impact on a company’s long term performance; and given companies which embrace that same cultural mindset will usually perform better in the long term, that should all point to better short term investor returns too as well as a much more robust and resilient share price.

So it isn’t altogether surprising that the market at large is now starting to sit up and take notice of Mainstream Impact Investment strategies; the same strategies which have been at the heart of portfolio management at Red Ribbon Asset Management since the company was founded more than a decade ago.

Major global institutional investors adopting impact investment strategies include the Government Pension Investment Fund of Japan (the world’s largest, with AUM of over $1.1 Trillion)Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global and ABPthe Dutch State Pension Fund (which is the second largest in Europe). As the Mckinsey Report also points out, these behemoths of the investment world are not just switching course for ethical reasons alone: they are pursuing “a conventional investment aim of maximizing risk-adjusted returns”.

And the Report goes on: “…Sustainable investing has become a large and fast-growing major market segment. According to the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance, at the start of 2016, sustainable investments constituted 26 percent of assets that are professionally managed in Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Canada, Europe, and the United States ($22.89 trillion in total). Four years earlier, they were 21.5 percent of assets”.

As though to make that point good, the Government Investment Fund of Japan announced in July this year that it had selected three sustainability indices as future reference points for its passive investment in Japanese equities; and for its part, ABP had already announced that it would include as part of its cross portfolio investment criteria a reduction of carbon-emissions by 2020 of 25% as well as a commitment to invest at least €5 billion in renewable energy by the same date.

These trends are not just straws in the wind. They are all clear pointers to the future, supporting the new paradigm of Mainstream Impact Investment. And of course, the flip side is important too. Mainstream businesses that calibrate their activities so as to reduce their negative impacts on the community, society and the wider environment will also provide a long term, viable basis from which all three segments can flourish. It is the difference between a one off, short-term social project and an entirely new paradigm for society.

It is that important.

Red Ribbon CEO, Suchit Punnose said:

The influential research team at Mckinsey produced a major new report last month which found long term performance to be significantly affected by good environmental and social market performance, as well as a company’s capacity to deliver effective governance in both fields; and companies that perform well in the long term will usually do better in the short term too, which means compliance with all three criteria is likely to deliver better investor returns and a more robust share price for the company in the short term too. So its not altogether surprising that the market at large is now starting to sit up and take notice of Mainstream Impact Investment strategies; the same strategies which have been at the heart of portfolio management at Red Ribbon Asset Management since the company was founded more than a decade ago.

Read the Mckinsey Report here: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/private-equity-and-principal-investors/our-insights/from-why-to-why-not-sustainable-investing-as-the-new-normal?cid=other-eml-alt-mip-mck-oth-1710

Read more about Mainstream Impact Investment here: reports.weforum.org/impact-investment/

Read about Red Ribbon Fund Management here: https://redribbon.co/

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Indian National Sports Day: More than a Game of Hockey

August 29, 2017

Growth Markets(55), Hockey(1), India(67), Invest In india(50), Mainstream Impact Investment(13), National Sports Day(1),

In the same month that we celebrate India’s National Independence and its continued economic vibrancy, the extraordinary life story of Dhyan Chand provides a striking illustration of the subcontinent’s cultural strengths. The same strengths that have proved to be such a potent catalyst in helping make India the fastest growing large economy on the planet and which provide a  compelling vindication of Red Ribbon’s decision, more than a decade ago, to place the subcontinent at the heart of its Mainstream Impact Investment strategies.

Dhyan Chand was born in Allahabad in 1905 and both the date and the place of his birth are significant. Less than fifty years previously the City had been the epicentre of British military rule in the Raj as well as the scene of a highly inflammatory massacre after Maulvi Ali famously unfurled his banner from the City’s walls. Chand’s father was an officer in the same British Indian Army that had so brutally suppressed the insurrection.

Dhyan Chand followed in the family tradition. He joined the British Indian Army just like his father had, but he crucially joined after the Army had been “Indianised’ in 1912 (a notable precursor to India’s eventual Independence); and just like his father, young Dhyan also played hockey for the Army…In fact, he played hockey very well indeed.

Chand went on to win hockey gold medals in three successive Olympic Games starting in 1928 in Amsterdam. Great Britain had truculently decided against sending a hockey team to Amsterdam having been soundly beaten by a touring Indian side (which included Chand) two years earlier; a decision described even by a contemporary observer as “a very stiff attitude” on the part of the colonial masters. But the Indian Team’s startling success at Amsterdam was met by unconfined joy back home: “This is not a game of hockey, but magic. Dhyan Chand is, in fact, the magician of hockey”, wrote the Times of India.

32,000 people met the team on their return to Bombay from Amsterdam two months later, in stark contrast to the three casual observers who had seen them off from the docks five months beforehand. And then, more famously still and now under Chand’s leadership, the Team went on to win a third gold medal at the 1936 Berlin Olympics: beating Germany 8-1 in the Final under the disapproving eyes of the Nazi Leadership and an incandescent Adolf Hitler.

Which is why Chand’s birthday on 29 August is now celebrated in India as National Sports Day. His extraordinary life was much more than a game of hockey. Born into the British Raj; serving in the British Indian Army and, through sporting excellence, looking bigotry clean in the face and coming out on top. Chand is an enduring example of the power of the human spirit and it is right we should celebrate him.

Red Ribbon is proud to be associated with his legacy.

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