In an era of record-low interest rates and a plethora of investment options to choose from there is an undeniable trend towards social impact investing. This concept relates to the responsible deployment of capital in such a way that provides benefits beyond financial returns, such as helping address unemployment, poverty or environmental issues.
The family-owned Mayfair 101 Group has demonstrated a preference towards large-scale investments that are capable of delivering significant social benefits. These benefits include rebuilding a natural disaster impacted region and funding the rollout of software and services to micro-businesses in emerging markets as a means of improving trade opportunities and therefore the quality of life for those with arguably lower living standards.
How Mayfair 101 is creating jobs and building confidence in a disaster-stricken town
Dunk Island is just 4 kilometres off the picturesque Mission Beach, a region that was badly impacted by cyclone Yasi in 2011. Since then the town has seen a significant increase in unemployment, businesses shutting down and evidence of the damage remains nearly a decade later.
In early 2019 Mayfair 101 identified the location as a significantly undervalued region that was once the jewel in the crown of Far North Queensland, which means from an investment strategy perspective, it presented an opportunity to restore value rather than create value from scratch.
Since its purchase of Dunk Island and over 240 properties on mainland Mission Beach, the Mayfair 101 Group has embarked on a 10-15 year plan to turn the region into Australia’s tourism mecca, which is estimated to create over 10,000 jobs in Far North Queensland.
And what’s more, the group has already made significant headway establishing a full-time team on the ground over 15+ staff and already investing over $70 million in less than six months in real estate, equipment, and local trades and consultants to commence its redevelopment plans.
The social benefits of a project such as this are many – increased employment (both direct and indirect), economic growth for the town resulting from renewed visitor interest, emergence of new business opportunities for professionals and improved community sentiment.
When a region is impacted by a natural disaster, such as the bushfires that recently wiped out large tracts of land throughout Australia, the re-building efforts are often overlooked by government and institutions. Instead, they rely on the often dis-coordinated efforts of private enterprise to gradually re-build.
This is where Mayfair 101 has got their model right – by effectively buying as much real estate as they could in a region with huge potential and rebuilding it in a coordinated manner.
Consideration has been given to using environmentally friendly processes and materials in the development plans that Mayfair 101’s property development division, Mayfair Iconic Properties, has for the region. They have already undertaken environmental studies to map the habitats of native animals, such as the cassowary, and have engaged with consultants that specialise in building sustainable structures both to minimise the carbon footprint but also withstand adverse weather conditions.
The group’s managing director James Mawhinney considers the social impact benefit of its investment in Mission Beach to be considerable. “The scale of our investment has already provided a significant boost to the local economy creating a win-win for locals, our investors, and the Mayfair 101 Group.
“Already we have created significant employment opportunities and renewed hope by demonstrating our commitment to delivering on our vision for the region.
“We are fortunate to be in a position where we have access to significant amounts of capital and we always want to put this to use where it can create positive outcomes for all.”
International recognition for Accloud’s social purpose
One of Mayfair 101’s assets is a fintech platform Accloud PLC that facilitates trade between micro and small businesses in emerging countries. The platform enables businesses to account for their goods in a similar manner to Xero, and trade with one another, including the potential to access micro-loans to help businesses scale.
In late 2019 Accloud’s founder, Ross James was honoured for his work supporting the growth and development of Indian SMEs at the annual Global Business Dinner hosted by the Indo-European Business Forum (IEBF). The IEBF also cited the Accloud founder’s establishment of the Ernie James Academy, an initiative for providing direct assistance to schoolgirls from the poorest families across India through a school scholarship program provided by Accloud.
Mayfair 101 has been an investor and supporter of Accloud for over 4 years, investing its own capital alongside capital from its IPO Wealth Fund and Mayfair Platinum to assist with the company’s growth strategy. The social benefit of Accloud’s business extends to improving the quality of life for sole traders and micro-businesses in less fortunate regions in India, Africa and other emerging markets which are rapidly becoming super-powers in their own rights.
Dominic McVey, an advisor to the Coalition for Global Prosperity (a not-for-profit organisation founded by Bill and Melinda Gates), is also a non-executive director of Accloud, which suggests a strong alignment with socially responsible business practices.
McVey has become a global ethical business leader and created Hela Clothing. Hela employs 15,000 people, with revenues of almost US$200 million and operations in Kenya, Ethiopia and Sri Lanka. According to McVey, he was able to achieve this because he put people and community first, which suggests a strong alignment with Mayfair 101’s core investment principles.
Climate change as an investment consideration
The Mayfair 101 Group has identified the need to support action on climate change and has recently engaged with an Australian family-backed Climate Change organisation to evaluate investment opportunities and their likely social and environmental impact.
It would seem that the groundswell of support behind climate change-focused initiatives make this a logical choice for those organisations like Mayfair 101 that are in a position to deploy investment capital.
In part four of our five-part series we look at Mayfair 101 Group’s structure and how it’s a hybrid between a private equity firm and an investment bank, and the measures taken to protect investor capital.