• Sustainable finance

"L&Q combine social purpose with commercial drive", Waqar Ahmed - l'Opinion

On the occasion of the COP24 which is taking place in Poland until December 14th, french daily newspaper l’Opinion published an exclusive dossier: "Climate and biodiversity: why is the financial sector scaling up?". Waqar Ahmed, Group finance director at L&Q, is one of the 8 key observers interviewed by l'Opinion. L&Q is an england regulated charitable housing association.  The Group houses around 250,000 people in more than 92,000 homes across London and the South East.

You signed a positive incentive loan with BNP Paribas.Could you explain in a few wordsthe guiding philosophy behind this operation?

L&Q is a regulated charitable housing association and one of the UK’s most successful independent social businesses. The L&Q Group houses around 250,000 people inmore than 92,000 homes, primarily across London and the South East. Over the next 10 years we will build another 100,000 quality new homes, at least half of which will be genuinely affordable. Everything we do begins with social purpose. Our vision is for everyone to have a quality home they can afford, and we combine our social purpose with commercial drive to create homes and neighbourhoods everyone can be proud of. This positive incentive loan with BNP Paribas aligns perfectly with our guiding philosophy.

L&Q undertakes capacity building by working directly with our resident to develop their employability

What makes this positive incentive loan innovating? Going forward,will all L&Q financing aim to address sustainable financing challenges?

Through our Independent Lives programme, L&Q undertakes capacity building by working directly with our residents and others in the wider community to develop their employability skills and find appropriate and sustainable jobs. Under the terms of the agreement with BNP Paribas, L&Q will benefit from an undisclosed discount on the margin of the loan if we succeed in getting at least 600 unemployed residents back into work in the first year, rising by an additional 25 residents ineach subsequent year. It is innovative because to our knowledge, this is the first ever UK housing association loan that incorporates a concrete, positive impact metric.

Waqar Ahmed, Group finance director at L&Q  

©Nick Johnson

For L&Q, is this a way to attractnew investors? Or a way to opena discussion on what yourassociation does?

Through the Fondation L&Q, we are investing £250 million to transform communities and help people lead independent lives. By forging strong relationships with partners, we are able to deliver even greater charitable outcomes. BNP Paribas is exactly the sort of partner we are looking for, and we are delighted to have completedthis ground-breaking deal with them. 

The team at BNP Paribas shares our sense of social purpose, and our combined vision is going to help hundreds more people into employment every year. We hope that other investors  learn about this fantastic deal, and it inspires them to come forwardand have a conversation with us.

The team at BNP Paribas shares our sense of social purpose

Could this new type of financingencourage you to further developnew projects and new missions?

The loan includes the possibility of adding an environmental key performance indicator later in the life of the facility. This will supplement the existing discount available to L&Q (unavailable link) if we meet the social impact target.

photo credit : header ©Iakov Kalinin

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