CSR tech start-up gets investment from Shark Tank’s Andrew Banks to align profit and purpose for corporates in Australia

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Andrew Banks, entrepreneur, mentor, investor, and shark has recently teamed up and invested in CSR tech start-up Informed 365 that helps corporates in Australia comply with new laws around corporate social responsibility (CSR).

With the recent introduction of the Modern Slavery Act, there are around 3,500 Australian companies with annual revenues over $100m that are now legally required to report on their supply chains and to ensure that no slaves or underage children were used in the production process.

The Informed 365 platform enables ASX listed companies, multinationals, NGOs and government organizations to collect insights around supply chain management, climate change resilience and greenhouse gas monitoring to help them make better, more informed decisions whilst improving efficiency, transparency, and visibility. 

Mr Banks said the market opportunity in tech solutions that could assist global businesses make better, more informed decisions with respect to corporate responsibility was staggering.

“The enactment of the 2018 legislation on Modern Slavery is a very topical issue and Informed 365’s SaaS solution provides both Board Directors and leadership teams the comfort and compliance they need in a fast, practical and, cost-efficient way,” said Mr Banks.

“No Chairman or CEO of any company needs to wake up one morning and find out they have accidentally tripped some wires around this new modern slavery legislation, or any other issue in their supply chain that could damage their brand or share price!” he said.

“I love investing in businesses that have a ‘positive purpose’ and are also commercially scaleable. I think Informed 365’s idea to create affordable software that provides 24/7 transparency is brilliant, especially as users can ‘dial up’ what is important to them, such as modern slavery, carbon footprint, climate change, or just the diversity of the companies that supply them with products and services,” Mr Banks added. 

“In Australia, it is now mandatory for companies earning over $100M in revenue to report on their supply chain practices, while the threshold in New South Wales falls to $50M. With the first reports due in 2020, companies must start reviewing their supply chains to collect data to comply with the new reporting obligations for the next financial year. By default, they will need to have some kind of tech solution to facilitate this and that is where Informed 365 comes in,” said Nicholas Bernhardt, CEO and co-founder of Informed 365.

“In addition to government regulations, stakeholders are now also expecting to see reporting on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change risk. These areas are no longer negotiable and companies need to address them if they are going to do their shareholders justice,” said Mr Bernhardt.

“At the end of the process, a company has a sophisticated report to share with the government and stakeholders demonstrating its compliance to regulations, and commitment to ethical and sustainability goals,” he added. 

Nicholas Bernhardt, CEO and Co-Founder of Informed 365

What are your future expansion plans in Australia and overseas?

Informed 365 provides three tech-based services: supply chain management, business intelligence / CSR reporting and Climate Change resilience. We are currently seeing significant growth and interest in our supply chain management / ethical sourcing platform in Australia driven by the recently introduced Modern Slavery Act. Taking into account that many of our clients have vast supplier networks in Asia Pacific we expect to continue our expansion into this region as well. We are also in discussions with potential collaboration partners in the US and Europe where Andrew Banks, who has taken an equity position, will be instrumental in the expansion.

What particular industries or companies would benefit most from your solutions?

Our agile solutions are beneficial to any organisation that is looking to digitise and automate any CSR / big data related aspect related to supply chains, Greenhouse Gas calculations, climate change resilience or metrics tracking (e.g. energy, water, waste, etc.). Our web-based applications assist companies in moving away from typically labour intense manual processes. All our solutions are industry agnostic and can be used by any business, NGO, NFP or governmental organisation.

Do you have an off-the-shelf solution that can be used by businesses?

We provide an off-the-shelf Supply Chain Management solution which is aligned with ISO20400. This application covers governance, human rights, labour, environment, community, fair operating practices, consumer issues and climate. Our clients can customise their own branded application to suit their own specific requirements.

Can you share any insights and trends relating to CSR adoption and reporting in Australia and/or overseas?

CSR adoption and reporting is now pretty much standard for most large and mid-cap companies across the world. However, there still appear to be significant differences with regards to the scope of reporting. For instance, on climate change reporting, there is still limited activity in Australia, despite increasing pressure and expectations. In March this year prudential regulator APRA warned that climate change risks must be regarded as a risk management issue for business, as “some climate risks are distinctly financial in nature and that many are foreseeable, material and actionable now”. Yet, perhaps surprisingly, we have seen very few organisations take meaningful action.

Globally there would appear to be a groundswell call for more transparency, visibility and accountability underpinned by frameworks such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and locally via legislation such as the Modern Slavery Acts both in Australia and the UK. It is to be hoped that CSR reporting is no longer viewed as a “nice to have” but more importantly it becomes a cornerstone and reflection of an organisation’s good corporate behaviour.

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