“Focus on the intention to create impact from day one”

Bradley Busetto, SDG Impact Japan, on game-changing tech, and thinking strategically about impact.

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Tech For Impact is talking to leading impact investors about their funding decisions and investment strategy, in our ongoing series of Q&As.

SDG Impact Japan is a Tokyo-based investment and advisory company specializing in sustainable finance.

Its investments include: Croptide, which has designed a smartwatch-like sensor for plants; Hot Lime Labs, which converts wood waste into clean CO2 for commercial greenhouses; and Nilo which reuses plastic waste for roads and building materials. 

Relevant Sustainable Development Goals

What markets and companies are you most likely to invest in?

We are positioning ourselves as Asia’s new platform for sustainable, SDG-aligned investment.

We are investing in agritech and foodtech, to scale up solutions to sustainable food production, in our new fund in partnership with AgFunder, the Singapore and Silicon Valley based venture firm.

And in our fund in New Zealand – focusing on all promising sustainable tech startups – we are investing in e-waste and climate tech solutions.

In the near future: edutech, healthtech, fintech for financial inclusion, and all aspects of the circular economy.

We also want to create meaningful change in the broader financial markets, and with larger companies. We have just launched our NextGen ESG Fund Japan, to invest in listed companies.


What do you look for in a management team?

Many of the usual attributes!

Past experience in a successful startup, domain expertise, and of course passion and the ability to articulate the vision and the pathway to achieving the vision – the fire in the belly.

But for us, a critical difference is we are looking for fire in the belly plus even more – the intention to create major positive impact.

It’s that impact intention that we are looking for from day one.


What depth of financial information is essential in a pitch deck?

Information about the competitive landscape, forward projections, liquidity, the total addressable market.

What are your plans for the current round of funding?  Who are the other investors?


What criteria do you use to assess impact and sustainability?

We work with each startup and each fund to define tailored impact strategies, based on GIIN as the globally accepted framework and also the new UNDP SDG Impact guidelines for funds.

Impact potential is a key part of our pre-screening process. We are unlikely to invest unless this intention, and a strategy to achieve this intention, is spelled out.

We will monitor impact throughout the life of our investments, and hopefully put in place the conditions for continuing impact post-investment and post-exit.


Where do most applications and pitch decks fall down?

We are definitely not too interested in apps that get food to my apartment a few seconds faster than the competition.

We are looking for game-changing tech that helps move our planet and society in a better direction – and can grow and make solid profits.


If you could say one thing to every startup, what would it be?

Focus on the intention to create impact from day one. And keep that intention through all the usual struggles of setting up and scaling your business.

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Bradley Busetto

Co-CEO, SDG Impact Japan

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