What makes a sustainability leader? Meet green investment champions Cyan Finance

With the entry deadline for edie's 2022 Sustainability Leaders Awards just one week away, this series showcases the achievements of previous winners and reveals their secrets to success. Up next: Winner of our 'Investor of the Year' award, Cyan Finance.

What makes a sustainability leader? Meet green investment champions Cyan Finance

Are you ready to follow in Cyan Finance's footsteps? Entries for the 2022 Awards close on 1 October 2021


Cyan Finance’s mission is to accelerate the green transition and contribute to solutions for the world’s most pressing social and environmental challenges. The business’ ESG strategy was not developed after it was established. Instead, it was built to serve this strategy and create a more sustainable world. Cyan says its ESG strategy is the foundation of all that it does. The business delivers financial capital from its own balance sheet as well as intellectual capital in the form of corporate finance and capital markets expertise.

Cyan’s investment process starts with an ESG/sustainability assessment and only if investments pass this, does the business commence the financial assessment. The assessment includes looking at whether the investment will have a positive or neutral impact on the environment, whether there are potentially negative side effects on other areas of sustainability, and whether the business could envisage the company being assessed to partake in a 2050 world.

Cyan has a 100% perfect investment track record; its entire portfolio is an example of successful ESG investment. The business believes that ESG will evolve and much of the discussion will drop away to be replaced by a more straightforward view that organisations concerned about ESG are better run.

Clients genuinely appreciate the authenticity of the team, who require them to work long and hard to identify and deliver financing solutions for their business. Clients almost universally talk about how “different” and “passionate” the Cyan team is. While this team of 10 is larger than the ESG investment teams of many investors, Cyan is still a small business and its culture enables it to punch above its weight.

When it comes to scaling sustainable investment, Cyan’s support for green SMEs is critical. Through the provision of both financial and intellectual capital, Cyan supports its clients to grow, which enables these businesses to deploy their solutions at scale, effectively addressing the climate emergency and helping additional capital to flow into this sector.

A significant change to its business and a transformative sustainable investment initiative that Cyan has undertaken in the past 12 months is its support for green and sustainable companies through the Coronavirus pandemic. In August 2020, Cyan became the first specialist lender to green, sustainable businesses to be accredited under the UK Government’s Coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS). For eligible borrowers, the first 12 months of fees and interest are paid by the UK Government helping companies to access much-needed funds.

As the British Business Bank’s delivery partner, Cyan is helping to support green and sustainable companies which have been adversely affected as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. This provision of funds is helping to spearhead the green recovery, enabling the UK to build back better.


Environmental and social sustainability is embedded in the culture and purpose of the business, and Cyan is building its organisation in a way that reflects that. When the team passionately shares that belief system and culture, environmental and social mindfulness is ever-present and is instinctively reflected in its approach to travel choices, procurement and resource efficiency. There are numerous examples of instances in which the business is leading by example. It doesn’t buy new equipment, so as not to contribute to e-waste – phones, laptops, monitors are all second hand. It is also as paperless as it is possible to be and does not have a printer in its business, instead opting to borrow a printer in its shared office when hard copies of documents are absolutely necessary.

Cyan has also lobbied its shared office to introduce changes such as separation of food waste and introduction of recycling, as well as encouraging more sustainable products to be used, and it has even gone so far as to negotiate with its local café to provide a discount to those using their own containers.

Cyan has multiple partnerships with universities, quasigovernmental organisations, sustainable business organisations and even a crowdfunding platform. The business believes in the efficacy of a partnership approach and continues to look for opportunities to collaboration.

Members of the Cyan team regularly speak at events and are featured in content dedicated to sustainable investment initiatives. For example, recently the business was quoted in the Guardian, highlighting the importance of green jobs in helping the UK meet its net-zero targets. It has also been featured in the International Financial and Law Review, Start- Up Magazine and in the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) newsletter, to name but a few.

edie’s judges said: “Cyan Finance stands our for having ESG embedded in every aspect of its overall mission. The organisation’s stringent assessment criteria and the additionality achieved by its investments show real leadership in this space. Cyan reduced its own internal carbon footprint and has helped to deliver wider, systemic change through collaboration. All in all, it is a deserved winner in this category.”

Are you our next winner?

After a tough and extraordinary year, edie’s RSA-accredited Sustainability Leaders Awards are back for 2022, bigger and better than ever – celebrating the incredible people, projects and partnerships that are accelerating climate action and transforming business, for good. 

Entries are now OPEN. The submission deadline for the 2022 Sustainability Leaders Awards is Friday 1 October 2021. The Awards is then set to take place as a live ceremony on the night of Wednesday 2 February 2022 at the Park Plaza London, Westminster. 

Our ‘Sustainability Leader of the Year’ category is among the 23 categories to choose from. Make sure you get the recognition you, and your team, deserve. ENTER THE SUSTAINABILITY LEADERS AWARDS 2022 HERE.

edie Staff


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