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Friends of impact investing at your service!

The impact investing national steering group began its work two years ago. Where is it going now?


Pentti Pikkarainen

Chair of the national steering group on impact investing, 2016-2017


For two years now, the impact investing national steering group has been Sitra’s sparring partner and adviser. It has provided a direct channel for impact investing stakeholders and, from the wider perspective, been a messenger for, and marketer of, impact investing.

The steering group has benefited from the knowledge and expertise of a wide range of stakeholders – from the fields of management and administration, the financial markets, (third sector) organisations and the research community. The role of the chair of the steering group has been partly the same as that of a chair of a board: the task has been to establish a discursive atmosphere at meetings and to support the Sitra experts. Meetings have been held two to four times a year.

Sitra’s project is moving into a new phase in 2018, and will continue for the next two years under the auspices of Sitra. The aim here is to bolster the progress of the work that has got off to such a good start and, at the same time, secure the future of impact investing in Finland. This will require the successful conclusion of projects already under way, the introduction of new projects and improved general awareness. Sitra needs to consider how it might also apply impact investing to its other projects.

The steering group will change, too. This is only natural because Sitra’s work in the area of impact investing will also take on a rather different form. The aim is for closer co-operation than ever with those partners that could continue building the impact investing ecosystem after Sitra, from 2020 onwards. A steering group that is smaller and meets more frequently would probably be a useful option.

The strength of the first steering group has been its heterogeneous nature and the fact that its members have spread the word about the project in many directions. The steering group has by no means been the only “marketing channel” for impact investing, but it has offered its members an excellent knowledge base and the tools to enable them to activate their own stakeholders. For example, the seminars run by Sitra on impact investing have been incredibly popular, with participants playing a very active role.

Nascent international co-operation, mainly with the UN and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, will in future materialise more obviously in the shape of joint projects. Sitra’s work and the skills and knowledge of its experts have received much attention and praise globally – and for good reason. More has been achieved in Finland in just a few years than many other countries manage in a decade.

The members of the present steering group have acquired a lot of knowledge in this area, and I believe that many people would like to follow and be a part of these developments in the future. I think that the steering group now finishing its work – “the friends of impact investing” – will be a valuable resource in the future.

The impact investing national steering group 2016-2017

Pentti Pikkarainen (chair); Tom Liljeström, Managing Director of Local Tapiola Asset Management (vice chair); Teri Heilala, CEO, FIM Group; Riikka Sievänen, member of the Board of Finland’s Sustainable Investment Forum; Ulla Nord, Managing Director, Me-säätiö (“We Foundation”); Jari Vaine, Senior Adviser at the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities (Kuntaliitto); Vertti Kiukas, Secretary General, SOSTE Finnish Society for Social and Health; Sirpa Kekkonen, Head of Government Strategy Secretariat at the Prime Minister’s Office; Anni Huhtala, Director General of VATT Institute for Economic Research; and Timo Lindholm, Senior Specialist at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. Mika Pyykkö, leader of Sitra’s Impact Investing focus area, was the steering group’s secretary.

Deputy members: Veli-Mikko Niemi, Director-General, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health; Esko Torsti, Director, Ilmarinen Mutual Pension Insurance Company; Heikki Nystedt, Credit Portfolio Manager/Head of Fixed Income, Partner in the Taaleritehdas Group; Jaakko Salminen, Chairman, Finnish Business Angels’ Network; Ilona Herlin, Kone Foundation, Vice Chairman of the Board; Kimmo Lipponen, Managing Director of Arvo-Liitto; Jussi Toppila, Advisor on Industry at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment; Teemu Japisson, Werka partner; Taina Kulmala, Counsellor, Prime Minister’s Office; and Otto Toivanen, Professor, Aalto University.

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