Posted on 08 April 2019
Paris was the setting for the third round of pitches under WWF’s Bankable Water Solutions initiative on April 5th with ‘dragons’ from 14 financial institutions voting on the viability of 4 potential business cases – all of which ended up securing seed funding.
The pitches ranged from a solar project in Cambodia to renewable energy in Myanmar, from climate resilient agri-business in Bhutan to forest landscape restoration in Uganda. Developed by WWF offices as well as external companies and organisations, the four business cases related to corporate and project finance, and covered forestry, agriculture, renewable energy and ecosystem restoration – demonstrating the diversity of potential sectors for bankable water projects.
And the rules of the Dragons’ Den were simple. Each team had 25 minutes to sell their concept to the dragons – an advisory panel of 15 experts from major financial institutions, including Societe Generale, BNP Paribas, the Dutch Development Bank (FMO), DEG , and the Asian Development Bank, representing collectively approximately €3.3 trillion in assets, as well as BCG and impact oriented asset managers, like Actiam and Mirova, representing another €65.3 billion in Assets under Management.
Each team had to convince the dragons that its pitch was based on a sound revenue model and would have a positive impact on freshwater ecosystems. Any team that secured majority support from the dragons would receive a portion of the available seed funding to go on to the next phase of development.
Despite tough questioning from the dragons, for the first time under WWF’s Bankable Water Solutions initiative
, all the potential projects were endorsed by the panel. The solar in Cambodia business case was unanimously endorsed.
“All four of these projects deserved to progress to the next phase of development and have the potential to become successful bankable projects,” said Margaret Kuhlow, WWF Finance Practice Leader, who announced the awards.
“WWF’s bankable water solutions are really starting to gain traction with a growing pipeline of projects around the world and increasing interest from financial institutions,” said Aaron Vermuelen, WWF Finance and Freshwater Lead.
Previous Dragons’ Dens have already resulted in a series of investments:
- €5 million Dutch nature restoration project is being considered for upscaling to a non-sovereign green bond;
- €6.5 million has so far been invested in cleaner production techniques by textile companies in Turkey;
- FMO has provided €400,000 seed capital for wastewater treatment projects in Zambia and Myanmar;
- ABInBev, the world’s largest brewer, has provided €100,000 for bankables work; and
- The Dutch foreign affairs ministry has earmarked €2.8 million in seed capital for projects in Mozambique and central Africa.