Esgaia was founded in spring 2020 by three friends from Halmstad, Sweden. Today we are presenting Anton Ljung, CEO and co-founder of Esgaia.
Anton has a background in finance and experience in running his own business. In March he left his job in the financial sector, took his idea into realization, and started the journey with Esgaia. Read about Anton’s story behind Esgaia below and his inspiring perspective on active ownership.
How did you discover the need for Esgaia?
When I worked as a fund analyst at an investment firm in Stockholm, I gained insights into investors’ sustainability management and realized the importance of active ownership. Unfortunately, my experience was that it was often managed with poor structure and low transparency. After extensive research, it was clear that there was a need to streamline investors’ sustainability management. I recognized the opportunity and founded Esgaia.
Why are you focusing on active ownership?
First of all, it’s inspiring to see how environmental, social, and governance considerations are influencing investors' decisions. I believe finance plays a vital role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Investors cannot be a passive bystander to sustainability challenges, they have to use their influence to push companies to act more responsibly.
Active ownership is about institutional investors using investments to influence companies. Active ownership is one of the most effective mechanisms to reduce risks, maximize returns, and have a positive impact on society and the environment. Divestment alone leaves investors with no voice and no potential to help drive responsible corporate performance. Active ownership is a proven investment approach, and there are a lot of cases that have led to remarkable outcomes for society and the environment.
What would you like to change with Esgaia?
I want to lower the barriers to active ownership. Creating and managing active ownership engagements can be a time-consuming and complex process. By simplifying this, investors can increase the quantity and the quality of engagements performed. I want all investors to have active ownership on their agenda, and I want to simplify the way active owners work today.
Also, I want to facilitate and increase investors' collaboration. Sustainability is no competition. When investors come together with unified voices, remarkable outcomes can be achieved. My ambition is to make Esgaia the core of active ownership and shareholder collaboration that drives sustainable change, thus generate impact.
What has the response of Esgaia been like?
Institutional investors that already practice active ownership are responding positively. However, some investors are still at an early stage in their sustainable transformation. The reception for those has been mixed but overall very positive. What I have seen among institutional investors is a great willingness to take responsibility, and I am convinced that active ownership will be the key to their sustainable transformation.
This year is coming to its end. What's on the agenda for 2021?
We are very excited to go into 2021. This year has been hectic. We went from sketches to a product launch in a couple of months, which was challenging for our developers. Next year won’t be different. We will take the platform to new dimensions, working with integrations and develop a collaboration network that will make it possible for investors to find and collaborate with other like-minded investors.
That's it for today. If you want to learn more about Esgaia stay updated here for more interesting meetings with the people behind Esgaia.
Any questions? Do not hesitate to contact us. Follow us on Instagram for updates on Esgaia’s progress.