Investment team of the year - asset manager: WaterEquity

Founded by Gary White and actor and philanthropist Matt Damon of Water.org, the asset manager WaterEquity was spun out of the non-profit in 2016 to invest in water and sanitation in emerging markets, while delivering social and financial returns.

According to the World Bank, there is a $1 trillion market opportunity for providing water and sanitation services to all people worldwide by 2030. Among emerging consumers, WaterEquity has identified an $18 billion market demand from low-income families for microcredit loans to pay for improved, household water and sanitation services.

"Providing financing to meet this opportunity would reach as many as 600 million people globally and go a substantial way towards solving the crisis," says Paul O'Connell, President of WaterEquity.

"WaterEquity is dedicated to forging a global capital market that closes this financing gap through smart, profitable, and impactful investments. Our impact funds provide debt capital to high-performing financial institutions and water and sanitation enterprises in emerging markets, yielding attractive financial returns for investors while empowering low-income families with access to water and sanitation solutions, such as a piped water connection or private toilet in their home."

The Investment Management team is comprised of individuals with experience across the banking, microfinance, and water and sanitation sectors. Regional investment officers provide experience in deal sourcing, structuring, and portfolio management, as well as in-country expertise in the water and sanitation and microfinance sectors.

One Impact Awards judge praised the WaterEquity investment team for its "deep sector expertise" while another said the asset manager had been "successful in catalysing other investment sources".

According to WaterEquity, a key objective of its investment team is to ensure its funds are catalytic to the larger impact investing industry.

John Moyer, WaterEquity's chief investment officer, commented: "Navigating the Covid-19 crisis has been challenging, but our team remains steadfast in our mission of building and nurturing a global capital market that finances access to safe water and sanitation for all. The pandemic further underscores the fundamental importance of safe water and sanitation, and the steady performance of our assets through the turmoil demonstrates the potential for growth and attractive returns in water and sanitation finance. We are excited to further scale up WaterEquity and reach millions of underserved families around the world."

WaterEquity reports the following impacts achieved:

  • Accelerating safe water and sanitation access: 2.1 million people reached with safe water or sanitation.
  • Deploying capital: WaterEquity's funds have deployed more than $100 million in capital towards solving the water and sanitation crisis across Cambodia, India, Indonesia, and Mexico in just five years.
  • Driving gender equality and economic opportunity: 98% of individuals directly supported by investments are women, and 100% of investments target people living in poverty.
  • Expanding financial inclusion: Nearly 430,000 microloans were made available to low-income consumers to serve their water and sanitation needs.
  • Enabling growth and earning returns: WaterEquity's funds are on track to meet or exceed their impact and financial performance goals. According to WaterEquity, its second fund is out-performing its projected internal rate of return (IRR) of 3.5%, with a since inception IRR of 5.71% as of Q3 2021.