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Finance for Future Award winners 2021 announced

Author: ICAEW

Published: 02 Nov 2021

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Each year, the Finance for Future Awards aim to shine a light on some of the wide-ranging and innovative sustainable activities that organisations around the world have committed to.

Founded in 2012, the Finance for the Future awards are about recognising and showcasing high-quality examples of financial leadership. They're also about inspiring others and helping to boost ambition.

The programme is a partnership between ICAEW, A4S and Deloitte, and is a chance for all parties involved in the process to build community by sharing knowledge and creating momentum for real change. Despite the myriad challenges to businesses across the globe, the standard of entrants to the awards remained high. 

“We were impressed with the standard of the finalists this year. They are very diverse and authentic, and out to create genuine change,” the judges said.

Head judge and ICAEW past president Paul Druckman said: “These awards aren’t just about rewarding those who are the best, but showcasing them to illustrate to their peers, as well as capital markets, and others, what is the best out there, and why.”


At a glance: 2021 Winners


Winner - Moving financial markets – Medical Credit Fund

Winner - Communicating integrated thinking - Yara

Winner - Embedding an integrated approach - Britvic

Winner - Innovative project - Audencia and Nepsen

Winner - Driving Change - Alex Edmans

Kenya-based Medical Credit Fund (MCF), part of the PharmAccess group, is this year’s winner for the award ‘Moving Financial Markets’. Its efforts to improve healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa for small and remote healthcare providers with flexible and unsecured working capital for up to six months stood out for the judges. The overall benefit of MCF’s work is to secure the ultimate prize – saving lives.

In this category, judges were looking at how sustainability was thoroughly embedded in the product or service, and that it was aligned with the organisation's wider strategy to create system value. Judges also wanted to see a demonstration of those social and environmental outcomes, as well as delivering positive financial returns. They were also looking to see market leadership.

MCF’s work particularly helps women in sub-Saharan Africa because they tend to have less collateral than men and therefore find it more difficult to secure financing directly from banks.

MCF met all the judges’ expectations. On the award, Nick Motegi, MCF analyst and digital lending specialist, said: “It is with profound gratitude and great humility that we accept this award. It means we are able to showcase our work and create impact. We can continue to finance quality healthcare through supporting the healthcare sector in Kenya and East Africa.”


Winner - Communicating integrated thinking – Yara

Yara, a global fertiliser company, caught the judges’ eye this year to beat its fellow contenders to secure the top award in the category ‘Communicating integrated thinking’. Yara’s new strategy is enshrined in its integrated annual report showing how the company creates value and performs against people, planet and prosperity targets. 

Yara’s communications approach has helped it to cultivate informed and engaged investors. The variety of investors attending the company’s ESG-focused investor seminar - where the company presented its new strategy – has grown too. 

At the core of the new integrated strategy is the knowledge that the world must produce more food to meet the needs of a growing global population – but with fewer carbon emissions. 

Bernand Stormyr, VP sustainability governance at Yara, said: “Guided by our mission to responsibly feed the world, and protect the planet we integrate sustainability into every decision we make. 

“One of the ways we work to improve ourselves is to systematically benchmark ourselves against others. So being recognised as a leading company by being in the final is a great recognition of all the work that we have put in to improve our performance. I think it's really important that we celebrate the early movers and those who incorporate sustainability into their business model.”

Head judge Paul Druckman said: “The candidates were very strong this year.”


Winner - Embedding an integrated approach – Britvic

Britvic’s sustainability strategy – Healthier People, Healthier Planet – secured the coveted top prize for this year’s category ‘Embedding an Integrated approach’.

Healthier People, Healthier Planet is fully embedded in the business and supported by financial and non-financial KPIs that are set out in its annual reports. 

Sarah Webster, director of sustainable business at Britvic plc, said: “This is a team effort to make sure that the processes facilitate us being able to move our business in the right direction to achieve our People and Planet goals for 2025, and beyond.”

In this category, judges were looking for organisations that could prove sustainability was embedded in strategy and decision-making. Entries also had to showcase the critical role of the finance team in achieving its goals.

In the UK and Ireland Britvic is moving some brands to 100% rPET (recycled plastic). The company is also committed to an industry-led, not for profit and GB-wide DRS to increase recycling levels. Entrants also had to demonstrate how they generated tangible environmental and/or social benefits in addition to delivering positive financial outcomes. Britvic’s Brazil business unit uses biomass, and the company is looking at on-site renewable generation in some of its European sites as well.

Webster said: “We have made a lot of progress, but we've still got such a long way to go. So far though, I'm proud of the work we are doing. This is about collaboration and breaking down silos.”


Winner - Innovative project - Audencia and Nepsen

In a joint entry, the French business school Audencia and Nepsen, a group of 13 French SMEs, secured the award for Innovative Project in this year’s Awards thanks to its pioneering experimentation of multi-value capital accounting in real-life case studies.

This award recognises ground-breaking projects that have the potential to change organisations to be more sustainable with the help of the finance team. Entrants had to show the project’s clear inputs and outcomes for finance teams, as well as its scalability and tangible environmental and/or social benefits.

The project experimented with Audencia’s multi-capital accounting model within the Nepsen group. The model aims to help companies become more sustainable by accounting for environmental and social performance, in a non-monetary manner. It is an accounting system that accounts for physical flows of previously defined indicators.

The experiment was able to highlight changes to its stakeholders and to show that the group aligned its ambitions with its actions. It ensured increased loyalty of Nepsen's employees and customers. The model’s application also allowed for better internal decision making. Social and environmental issues were included to ensure consistency and sustainability. 


Winner - Driving Change - Alex Edmans

Alex Edmans, a professor of finance, has been named as this year’s winner of the Driving Change in the finance community award.

Edmans, author of Grow the Pie: How Great Companies Deliver Both Purpose and Profit, has been researching sustainability and finance for 15 years. 

This year the Driving Change award is dedicated to the memory of Jeffrey Unerman, a prominent academic in sustainability accounting. The award recognises the contribution of individuals, organisations or joint entrants in effecting change to integrate sustainability through education, training and academia. 

Edmans’ work stood out for the judges, because of his goal to bring sustainability into the business mainstream. The professor of finance makes a strong financial case for sustainable business models while acknowledging the complexities and trade-offs that organisations face. 

Edmans gives pro bono talks on sustainability to companies, investors, policymakers and business schools. Organisations can also use his actionable framework to adopt more sustainable practices. Edmans also uses his platform to introduce business and finance professionals to research from other leading academics.

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