NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 2 – The First Community Bank (FCB) has received approval from the Capital Markets Authority to roll out a new unit trust scheme, the First Ethical Opportunities Fund.
The Fund, which is in line with the Capital Markets (Collective Investments Schemes) Regulations 2001, aims at giving investors alternative avenues to grow their investment portfolios.
Making the announcement, CMA Chief Executive Officer Stella Kilonzo said ethical investing, also known as Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), is underpinned by an investment strategy that seeks to maximise financial returns and social good in keeping with global trends.
"This new fund, which is a unit trust scheme, will help Kenya attract foreign portfolio investors as SRI is a growing business in both the USA and Europe. One out of every nine dollars under professional management in USA was involved in SRI in 2007," Mrs Kilonzo said.
She also pointed out that SRI provides an ideal way of diversifying products and services in the capital markets as well as creating interest amongst investors.
"It is expected that the SRI market in USA will reach $3 trillion this year up from $2.7 trillion in 2007. The European SRI market grew from €1 trillion in 2005 to €1.6 billion in 2007," she said.
Major ethical funds globally include the Norwich Union Ethical Fund, Old Mutual Ethical Fund, Aberdeen Ethical World Fund, and Aviva UK Ethical Fund.
Mrs Kilonzo observed that socially responsible investors favour corporate practices that promote environmental stewardship, consumer protection, human rights, and diversity.
"In developed SRI markets, a screening criteria has been put in place with clearly set out benchmarks for qualifying such funds. I am delighted to announce that FCB\’s First Ethical Opportunities Fund meets the globally acceptable criteria for ethical investing," she said.
The new fund will be investing in line with Shariah law.