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Our core purpose is to advance tangible positive impacts on nature, society, and the environment at large through far-reaching projects and transformative ideas: Rupesh Madlani, CEO of Bankers without Boundaries

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“As a young firm, our aspirations go beyond the $2bn we have already been able to mobilise.”

Bankers without Boundaries (BwB) was born from the idea that the knowledge and skills of investment bankers could be used to benefit the environment and society. Motivated by the stark reality that the climate crisis would require trillions of dollars to transition to new sectors and structures, BwB gathered former investment bankers accustomed to facilitating large-scale financial transactions to apply their skills to address this challenge.

The firm’s ethos is similar to that of Médecins Sans Frontières which provides medical aid where it is needed most. Though headquartered in London, the firm’s reach is global, serving governments, cities, and foundations around the world with the expertise to unlock capital towards high-impact projects for environmental protection and social good.

The organisation was founded in 2013 by Rupesh Madlani, a former number one ranked research analyst, and Angus Forbes a top-rated hedge fund portfolio manager. Ten years later, the team has grown significantly, and BwB has been able to mobilise more than $2 billion, working with more than 20 sovereign nations, 100 cities, and a number of corporations.

We attribute this success to BwB's continual focus on innovation and adaptability. As a close partner to the finance ecosystem on both the sell and buy side, BwB has successfully leveraged its unique position in the market to promote areas that have the highest degree of positive societal impact.

The Silicon Review reached out to Mr. Madlani, co-founder and CEO of Bankers without Boundaries, and here’s what he had to say.

Interview Highlights

Q. As an innovator in finance, what are BwB’s key focus areas?

We apply the skills and knowledge of the financial sector to a truly diverse range of sectors. Our organisational structure is built around 11 key sectors. As can be seen below, these range from energy, to biodiversity, to sovereign debt, to urban finance. Our horizontal sectors are cross-cutting, engaging at either a local or national level; our nine vertical sectors provide specialized expertise in areas that are significant drivers of impact on society.

Figure 1: BwB’s Sector Overview

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Source: Bankers without Boundaries

Q. Can you introduce us to your services? What are their primary features?

BwB has three main divisions: asset management;  with our first fund launching shortly, focusing on nature technology, co-investing with leading family offices; investment banking, where BwB, as a regulated firm, provides  corporate finance advice to raise capital for enterprises that have a positive impact on the planet; and advisory, working with a range of partners (cities, governments, supra-national institutions, etc.) to accelerate the transition to net zero.

Q. Can you provide us with one or two success stories describing the challenges your clients faced and how BwB helped them overcome those challenges?

Net Zero Cities

BwB is proud to be working with over 100 cities to develop Climate Investment Plans as part of the EU’s “Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities” mission. Through this flagship EU initiative, BwB supports cities through investment and finance to achieve climate neutrality through technical assistance and capital facilitation services. With BwB’s human capital deployed locally with our partners in cities across the region, we are developing a pipeline of projects that we believe to exceed €500bn. We are also working to develop financing structures that combine public and private capital, incorporate co-benefits and existing facilities from Development Finance institutions (DFIs), and engage with funding and finance institutions. This will be achieved through the engagement of a City Mission Capital Hub, led by the firm, which brings together private and public capital to fund projects across regions and cities. In addition, we offer cities technical assistance which includes analysing success, failures, and obstacles in the current funding landscape, to create a rapid ‘state of play’ for city climate financing activities and options. Lastly, BwB assesses finance policy needs towards climate-neutral cities to provide recommendations for improving the capital ecosystems and market conditions. Through the development of investment plans and the Capital Hub development, in just over 3 years, BwB positioned itself as one of the most high-level and essential players in the field of urban decarbonisation and energy transition in the EU.

Sustainable Finance Training of Asia-Pacific Island Officials

BwB worked with the Climate Finance Access Network (CFAN) on a cohort-based, multi-week, rigorous, and technical program for CFAN’s inaugural cohort of 30 newly hired Advisors to Asia Pacific Island States. The overarching objective of the training was to prepare advisors to secure, structure, and model finance for investment in climate and sustainability projects on behalf of the respective countries where they work. BwB developed a detailed module of the training program, named “Climate finance instruments and financial structuring”. Among the CFAN alumni successes, in April 2023, a $10M project proposal led by a CFAN fellow from the BwB-taught cohort was accepted for development in Papua New Guinea. The project, “Adaptation of Small-Scale Agriculture for improved food security of resilient communities in Papua New Guinea” will help address barriers to improving the resilience of smallholder farmers and enhance the sustainability of agricultural value chains. The unique combination between civil service training, financial innovation and link with investors makes BwB a precious partner to a large number of public sector clients.

Q. What's the one thing you want BwB to be known for?

Impact! BwB was built to make a practical difference to the most pressing challenges humanity faces. As a young firm, our aspirations go beyond the $2bn we have already been able to mobilise. Our core purpose is to advance tangible positive impacts on nature, society, and the environment at large through far-reaching projects and transformative ideas.

Tell us, what’s next for Bankers without Boundaries.

Firstly, we are looking to launch new investment funds, beyond our NatureTech pilot, to amplify our investment management impact, providing clients with a wider range of strategies to meet their requirements. Secondly, we are expanding with plans to increase our capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region and headcount globally to support our growing business, ensuring we have the necessary expertise to continue delivering high-quality outputs to drive innovation across the ecosystem.

Q. Is there anything you would like to add before we wrap up?

As an indirect outcome of our culture and approach, we attract some of the brightest people available in the market. Our goal is to provide opportunities for analysts and associates joining the firm to develop into the outstanding leaders of the future. We do this through our flat culture, providing responsibilities early, our mentorship program, and our structured and exclusive on-the-job training program. Taken together, this makes BwB an unparalleled firm in which to grow and develop.

Rupesh Madlani | Co-Founder, CEO & Board Member

After graduating in Economics at the London School of Economics, Rupesh worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers in the corporate finance practice. He then spent a decade at Lehman Brothers and Barclays in equity research for the sustainability and clean technology sector, ranking first in the Institutional Investor survey in his last year.

Rupesh is a chartered accountant and a Freeman of the City of London. He is a non-executive director at Nature Finance which aims to foster nature investment through advocacy, market engagement, and innovation. In addition, Rupesh has been an expert reviewer in various publications by the World Economic Forum, the OECD, the World Bank, and the UN in relation to sustainable development. He has spoken at COP (Conference of Parties) climate summits, sustainable investment panels, and impact events around the world.

“We are expanding with plans to increase our capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region and headcount globally to support our growing business, ensuring we have the necessary expertise to continue delivering high-quality outputs to drive innovation.”