Investment leader of the year: Claire Smith

After creating the world’s first vegan-screened stock index Claire Smith’s Beyond Investing last year launched the Europe Vegan Climate and Global Vegan Climate indexes.

These follow on from 2018’s US Vegan Climate Index and screen out all animal exploitation and fossil fuels, and other causes of harm to humans and the environment, from a European and global benchmark, respectively.

Beyond Investing last year also created a small-to-mid capitalisation growth strategy, called the Vegan World Index consisting of companies whose products adhere to vegan principles, spread across the entire food and materials supply chain. This followed an exchange traded fund (ETF) on the US Vegan Climate Index, listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2019.

The US Vegan Climate ETF aims to provide a solution for retail and institutional investors who wish to embed cruelty-free and environmentally friendly principles in their core US large cap allocation. It is market capitalisation weighted and consists of approximately 250 stocks.

“Having pioneered vegan investing, last year we expanded our offering to enable investors to divest from animal exploitation and take targeted exposure to vegan alternatives, through launching global equity indexes and venture capital vehicles whose target companies accelerate the transition to a kinder, cleaner, healthier world,” said Claire Smith, CEO of Beyond Investing.

Elsewhere, Beyond Impact, the organisation’s vegan venture capital branch, launched its second fund Beyond Impact Fund II to invest in later stage companies from Series A and two seeding funds, in the US and the UK. Since 2017, the portfolio has invested in 25 companies that offer alternative proteins and plant-based replacements to products derived from animals, healthy vegan convenience foods, animal testing alternatives and cruelty-free lifestyle products.

One Environmental Finance Awards judge noted Smith’s “long standing commitment to action,” while another stated she had “impressive accomplishments”.