Building sustainable financial products

Entry criteria

This award recognises organisations that have developed new financial products or services that are aimed at driving sustainable outcomes. It is open to any organisation that provides lending, insurance, investing or capital markets related products or services as part of a wider portfolio. Joint entries between organisations are also welcome, for example if organisations have worked with external advisors in order to develop the new product or service.

Examples can include, but are not limited to:

  • A lending or debt instrument that directly enables the provision of sustainable products and services to the commercial or consumer market places.
  • A fund that enables institutional or retail investors to mitigate ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) risks and/or take advantage of opportunities.
  • A stock exchange that has created a new index for sustainable securities/instruments, or introduced other ways to drive sustainable approaches across markets as a whole e.g. via a reporting requirement or listing requirement.
  • A telecommunications company that develops a product that enables customers to pay for simple transactions via a mobile payment solution which provides an informal financial service to many people who would normally be excluded.
  • A hedge fund focusing on investment products based on their long-term positive ESG impacts.
  • A specific fund focused on minimising climate risks. 

In all cases, it is expected that the product or service is, or has the potential to be, financially significant to the organisation as a whole.

Entrants must demonstrate

  • That the product or service has generated, or is likely to generate, tangible environmental and/or social benefits IN ADDITION TO delivering positive financial outcomes.
  • That the product or service is EITHER of a financially significant size to the organisation OR a pilot which, if successful, could be scaled up.
  • How the organisation is actively working with its clients or key stakeholder base to enable successful adoption and scale. 
  • That the product or service is core to the activities of the organisation itself.

Further information and resources

This award does not include the adaptation or development of new processes. Please see our award Investing and financing if your organisation has developed new financial processes. Please see below links to previous awards winners and highly commended projects or initiatives. In considering these, please note that categories in previous years were different from this year’s categories and that projects were considered innovative at the time of the attribution of those awards.

Please ensure you have reviewed and understood the Terms and Conditions for the Awards before submitting your entry.

If you have any queries about the categories or awards process, please contact 

2018 Winner: Grofin

Grofin is a pioneering development finance institution, based in Mauritius, which supports small and growing businesses across Africa and the Middle East. It aims to generate employment, strengthening value chains and building markets to raise economic growth and improve living conditions in the low to middle income countries, ‘the missing middle’, in which they operate. It has developed a business support model to provide SMEs with guidance, mentoring and coaching both before and after providing funding. Since it launched its small and growing business fund in 2014 it has supported 1400 entrepreneurs and sustained more than 37,000 jobs.  Read more about the 2018 winners here

2018 Highly commended: Abundance Investment

Abundance is a direct investment platform offering investments and financial products that can be used to build a portfolio of direct investments generating long-term sustainable outcomes. It specialises in debt finance and the issuance of amortising debentures that can work favourably for both small businesses and investors. It works in areas like renewable energy, the green economy and in housing, generating financial returns while being good for the environment.  Read more about the 2018 winners here

  • 2017 winner’s case study (Start-up and growing enterprises): Through innovative financing of the business model by its parent, Strasser Capital, MEP Werke was able to lease solar power systems and other energy efficient appliances to German house owners on terms which are more accessible to ordinary households than previously available.
  • 2017 highly commended case study (Public and not-for-profit sectors): FAST, the Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade, is an international organisation set up to facilitate access to finance for SMEs working in sustainable agriculture and forestry sectors and so boost sustainable development. In 2016, to build on its expertise in creating a set of impact indicators and an understanding of ecologically intelligent approaches to agriculture and forestry, it launched AXiiS, an online platform, to match SMEs in the field with investment capital.
  • 2016 winners’ case study (Investing and financing): Bridges Ventures is a fund manager specialising in sustainable and impact investment across health and wellbeing, education and skills, sustainable living and underserved markets. The manager wanted to demonstrate that this investment approach could be sustainable and attract investors more widely.
  • 2014 winner’s case study (Innovative new idea): Threadneedle launched a UK Social Bond Fund which give investors the opportunity to put their money into organisations that deliver socially desirable outcomes as well as financial returns.