Interview with Belissa Rojas, Head of ESG Strategy and Impact


“Driving impact through people”

Belissa boasts a remarkable track record, coupled with an ambitious vision of instigating organizational integration of impact into their business strategies, thereby fostering true corporate citizenship and accountability for actions and outcomes. As certified trainer in impact measurement and management and an advisor to the United Nations Development Programme, she has played a pivotal role in advancing the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Impact Standards, and in crafting and delivering training initiatives.

Left : Natalya Novikov, Chief Financial Officer / Right : Belissa Rojas, Chief ESG and Impact Officer

During her 20-year career dedicated to sustainability and impact management, Belissa has amassed diverse experience spanning public, financial and private sectors. Notably, she has served as advisor to the Board of Directors of the Inter-American Development Bank Group (IDB, IDB Invest and IDB Lab) for Peru, Chile and Colombia. Among Belissa’s key strengths is her ability to combine in-depth impact expertise with a pragmatic and human approach, translating concepts into tangible outcomes.

Why impact matters to the private sector?

Businesses have traditionally focused on innovation and profitability because that has been their primary objectives. However, envision the strides they could make if their new aim was to align with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals! Recognizing the untenability of seeking infinite returns from finite resources, investing and doing business with an impact-driven mindset offers a practical alternative.

Embracing impact is strategically important to create a competitive edge, given the growing demand for responsible and sustainable business practices and investments from stakeholders such as employees, partners, investors, regulators, and the public. It is imperative for companies to understand their impact on human rights and the environment, and ensure that their activities across supply chains, operations, and products cause no harm. This means incorporating ESG criteria into their business decisions, alongside addressing climate-related and reputational risks that directly impact the bottom line.

In essence, organizations must reassess their modus operandi, striving to strike a balance between attaining financial profitability and optimizing positive impact while mitigating adverse outcomes. Every organization wields an impact, even without realizing it, underscoring the accessibility and importance of impact far beyond conventional thought. The stability and prosperity of humanity are at stake, and time is ticking away.

What are the key success factors for achieving profitable impact?

It all starts with a clear intention and a well-defined plan to translate intentions into tangible results. Consider the analogy of someone aspiring to become a marathon runner within 2 years. While setting goals is crucial, assessing the likelihood of success requires delving deeper. Are they genuinely committed? Do they possess a meticulously crafted plan? Are they receiving guidance from a qualified coach? Do they uphold healthy and appropriate dietary habits? Evaluating these factors provides insights into the runner’s prospects of success.

Metrics serve as benchmarks for success and are useful for tracking progress. Equally important is scrutinizing actual practices and iteratively refining them over time to drive improvement. By moving beyond metrics and leveraging them as springboards for refining practices, our runner can achieve not just one, but a series of successful marathons and it is the same for organizations.

To sum up, three factors drive impactful outcomes: setting clear intentions, aligning practices and measuring progress and results. Of course, without learning and continuous improvement, merely tracking data falls short of proactively managing to deliver results. Likewise, without robust practices and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), enterprises are left reliant on intentions alone, heightening the risk of failure or subpar results.

How does impact investing apply at Fondaction Asset management?

It is crucial to understand Fondaction Asset management (FAM) unique model. As an impact-driven manager of investment funds, FAM pioneers high-performance financial solutions aimed at solving critical environmental and societal challenges while delivering competitive returns. Operating within sectors such as energy transition, natural capital protection, environmental markets and the circular economy, FAM’s funds finance forward-thinking companies and projects with demonstrable impact.

At FAM, we firmly believe that authentic change and impact stem from committed individuals. Our approach to sustainability begins with our team, with impact goals seamlessly integrated into our core strategy. We have fostered an impact-centric culture viewing each team member as an “impact manager”. Our collective success depends on our ability to identify opportunities for impact generation while minimizing the risk of harm. By aligning on impact goals and nurturing a shared impact lexicon and knowledge base, we have facilitated the adoption of new ESG and impact tools across our platforms, empowering teams to innovate and elevate our impact aspirations. Our ESG & impact approach has benefited from Fondaction’s sustainability and impact practices, as well as its wide experience in the impact investing industry.

My role at FAM revolves around maximizing our likelihood of achieving our goals by infusing sustainability and impact lenses into the way we do business. Specifically, my efforts are concentrated on three pillars:

  1. Designing and implementing an ESG & impact approach for FAM and our fund platforms in line with industry best practices.
  2. Developing and delivering impact training programs for all employees and key stakeholders.
  3. Collaborating and sharing knowledge to accelerate our collective contribution to the SDGs.

Impact management at Fondaction Asset Management is not something we do, it’s what defines us.

“Driving impact through people”