At the recent IMPACT FESTIVAL 2021 in Frankfurt, Germany, we caught up with Luise Ammerschuber, Director and founder of Zurich based, YESS Impact, to ask her about her company, festival experience and visions for the future.
What brings you to IMPACT FESTIVAL 2021?
I’m here to check out the German impact scene and see what kind of collaborations we can pick up here. I also presented a workshop Blockchain for Sustainable Finance in Rural Uganda, one of my projects.
Tell me about YESS Impact.
It’s a company focused on social business and impact investing working around the world – consulting clients in different countries having impact on the ground in Uganda and Nigeria, specifically. We are also connecting social business and impact investing around the world.
What brought you into the social impact space? What is your ‘why’?
I’ve been working in social impact since I was a teenager, so it’s always been in my blood. I’ve worked around the world, in different organisations as a volunteer in human rights and sustainability. I realised that my big passion is actually social business, because I like how it brings together corporations, investors, NGOs and different people to create real impact with sustainable models. Creating models that are economically based – any social business dollar you invest comes back, sometimes even with interest if you do impact investing.
I could see that, especially following Muhammad Yunus, a Nobel Prize winner’s, model that you could really have a massive impact.
How much movement are you seeing in the social impact area at the moment? Is it building momentum or are corporations still a little closed off?
When I was in university it felt like our sustainability issue was seen as a nice little extra but now becomes more mainstream, so I love seeing that trend, it’s the same for impact investing, it’s starting to peak now.
But the focus is very much on climate change and topics like that, it’s still missing a lot of the social aspects – the social factors involved.
Both topics are super important, but they’re very much interlinked, we should really focus on both. I’m really trying to get the focus on education and employment platformed.
Do you feel it can often just be a box ticking exercise for corporations?
It very much depends on the company, they used to just talk about ethics and corporate social responsibility, which was seen more as an ‘add on’. But in a lot of the industries, it’s mainstreamed now.
If you look at the fashion school in New York, for example, you’ll see that most of the young graduates come out with some form of social impact or sustainability component in their projects, even their graduate projects.
So, in some cases it’s really part of the identity of the industry and in others, it’s still more seen as an add on, but that will change as well with changing generations.
What’s your experience been of the inaugural IMPACT FESTIVAL 2021?
Super interesting. I met so many interesting people. Vice versa inspiration so I got a lot of new inputs for the things where I still felt a little lost myself, but I can now see the vision moving forwards as well – that is extremely valuable for me. I also found a network with who I can work with to bring these points further so I’m very satisfied with the outcome.
What are your visions for the future with YESS Impact?
I want YESS to be present on all the different continents, and it will be. I want to really make sure that we work with both investors, corporations, people in the countries itself so that we are working directly with them and in many cases skipping by the middleman – making sure the money directly reaches the country and the people there.
I want to bring the best expertise out of each of these players together to create great projects, projects that really make sure the money is used well, and that investors can invest in projects that have both a financial return as well as a social and ecological return.