From education to employment

Ufi VocTech Trust aligns portfolio investments with UN Sustainable Development Goals and diversifies investment approach


Ufi VocTech Trust (“Ufi”), the UK charity working to scale up the delivery of adult vocational skills through digital technology, today announces a new investment policy, bringing in line its investment assets with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Ufi VocTech Trust’s innovative investment strategy incorporates its charitable purpose throughout the mix of capital it deploys. The key objective of this new approach is to incorporate its mission to support vocational educational technology (VocTech) throughout its investment portfolio. Ufi, which has deployed grants for early-stage ideas since 2014, began making venture investments in promising mission-aligned start-ups in 2019. 

Ufi champions the power of technology to improve skills for work. As such, its new strategy sees it investing in thematic equity funds mapped to SDGs that seek disruptive growth companies and contribute to its mission. These invest in areas such as educational technology (EdTech), robotics and automation, gender equity, smart mobility, smart cities and digital health. Ufi’s new strategy also sees it invest in a green and responsible corporate bond portfolio designed to match cashflows with the charity’s future liabilities, such as its grant-making program. 

Ufi VocTech Trust is working with Credit Suisse, who is acting as investment service provider, leveraging both its Asset Management and Private Bank expertise in thematic and EdTech investments. Credit Suisse’s impact-aligned approach to equity investment reflects key elements of Ufi’s mission, whilst meeting financial objectives.

Rebecca Garrod-Waters, CEO at Ufi VocTech Trust, said:

“This has been a hugely important piece of work for Ufi VocTech Trust and for me personally. We passionately believe in the power of vocational education and the importance of good technology to support it. Working with Credit Suisse to achieve the best possible positive impact from our investments is an important part of our commitment to both the sector and positive social impact more widely.” 

Joe Ludlow, Impact Investment Director at Ufi VocTech Trust, said:

“Ufi VocTech Trust’s new investment strategy completes our aim to align 100% of our resources and activity with our mission, and to join the group of pioneering charitable foundations working in this way. The impact investing field has matured significantly such that we can now take this approach. The development of new technologies and the effects of the pandemic on jobs and employment, especially for the most disadvantaged in society, means we need to lever more investment to solve some of the biggest problems in skills development for the underserved.” 

James Gifford, Head of Impact Advisory at Credit Suisse, added:

“Credit Suisse and Ufi VocTech Trust both share the belief that EdTech is a powerful tool for change and that by aligning an investment portfolio with the SDGs, you can make a social impact while generating financial returns. By using capital in a more efficient and imaginative way, Ufi can inspire other organisations beyond the philanthropic sector to align their financial investments with their own mission.” 

The new Ufi VocTech Trust investment policy is the culmination of five years’ work, providing a holistic framework across all assets – grants, venture investment and investment capital – to support vocational educational technology and create positive impact, in line with the UN Principles for Responsible Investing. 

Alongside today’s announcement, Ufi will publish a document detailing their approach to help enable this shift in charitable sector investing. Ufi aims to share the practicalities of how it both developed and realised its mission-aligned investment strategy. 

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