Each week Emerging Markets ESG publishes an interview entitled, “Five Questions about SRI.” The interview features a practitioner’s insights about SRI in emerging markets and through Emerging Markets ESG shares this expertise with a wide global audience. The goals of Five Questions about SRI are fourfold:
- To collect a catalogue of examples of SRI in practice in emerging markets;
- To raise awareness about SRI in emerging markets;
- To reflect on what SRI in emerging markets means to practitioners; and
- To enable SRI practitioners in emerging markets to network with peers around the world.
This week’s interview is with Ryan Mitchel, President, Pure Water Box, Markham, Ontario, Canada.
Pure Water Box is proudly Canadian with its headquarters in Markham, Ontario. Its team of experts designed the eco-friendly state of the art 16, 20 and 40 foot containers with the best water desalination, sterilization, bacteria and virus elimination systems in the world. The units are made in Canada and can be shipped anywhere that safe drinking water is threatened by environmentally challenging conditions. The company’s vision is to focus its efforts on providing state of the art water purification solutions where needed anywhere in the world. As a Canadian-based firm, its energies are also targeted on the provision of a Canadian solution to the Canadian problem of Third World quality water in Canada’s First Nations communities. The United Nations has declared that clean drinking water is a human right. Pure Water Box has the technology to help make that happen. It does this with its specialized container units that can turn seawater, brackish, pond, lake or river water into clean safe drinking water that is better than World Health Organization (WHO) standards. Ryan Mitchell is President of Pure Water Box. He has more than 12 years’ experience as a financial advisor, stock trader and manager (CIBC, TDCT, RBC and PFP). Ryan is a humanitarian who has participated in 12 missions to build homes, schools and churches in developing countries. His goal is to provide clean drinking water to Canada’s First Nations Communities and drought victims worldwide. He served in the Canadian Armed Forces as one of the youngest patrol commanders in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is engaged in a number of charitable foundations and institutions; he is a member of the board of directors of Alberta Gas Inc., and chairs the Seneca College Alumni Board. He holds a BBA degree (in finance and human resources) from Bishops University.
Emerging Markets ESG: How would you define socially responsible investment (SRI)?
Ryan Mitchell: It is doing good while making a profit. These two are not normally said or presented together. Everyone can do good and everyone can make a profit. The trick is to make a difference by using your profits, your gains and your passion to do good. Find an area in need and where YOU want and can make a difference. I try to make a difference every day. I choose select charities and groups to give back with my time, expertise, my business and yes, my money too.
Emerging Markets ESG: What distinguishes SRI from mainstream investment?
Ryan Mitchell: People want to support companies that are socially responsible, care about the environment and pay a fair wage to its workers. That is why companies provide resources to support fundraising for research into deadly diseases, cleaning up the environment or supporting charities. Companies know that a well-publicized socially responsible investment is the best advertising money can buy. They understand that using some of their profits to do good pays high dividends.
Emerging Markets ESG: Which extra-financial theme – environmental, social or governance – is the most challenging for companies in emerging markets to manage?
Ryan Mitchell: At the end of the business day, I think senior executives would say all three can be challenging. Nothing in business, especially in emerging markets, is easy. The problem is that individuals perceive business practices differently. What is ethical to one is unethical to someone else.
I believe corporate social responsibility starts at the top with the owners, executives and managers. They must have the Character needed to set the example for employees that giving back is good for business.
Emerging Markets ESG: Which extra-financial theme – environmental, social or governance – is the most challenging for investors in emerging market companies to analyze?
Ryan Mitchell: That’s a tough question because you don’t always know what you’re going to get. Most countries in an emerging market, just don’t share the same business practices as we do in North America. The differences can be huge, especially in governance, how they view the environment, their taxation and how they treat people in the workplace.
Social responsibility is foreign to many businesses in emerging markets. You can’t change ideas and traditions overnight. Analyze why it isn’t happening now to figure out how to change the corporate culture to make it happen in the future.
Emerging Markets ESG: Why is water such an integral component of both SRI and the sustainability paradigm shift?
Ryan Mitchell: Water is becoming a commodity to be traded like gold or silver in times of disaster, drought or need in different parts of the world. This opens up opportunities for companies looking to make socially responsible investments.
We encourage companies to purchase or joint venture Pure Water Box units and donate them to charities operating in drought stricken countries. Their investment will help save lives by providing safe cleaning drinking water in a thirsty world.