Cooper Investors puts its money where its mouth is


Peter Cooper

Cooper Investors, the Melbourne-based specialist global equities fund manager, is taking its investment philosophy to the world of philanthropy with its decision to support OzHarvest, Australia’s leading food rescue charity.

Cooper Investors Founder and Chief Investment Officer, Peter Cooper, says the values that the fund manager looks for in companies, such as authenticity and focussed management, is very evident in how OzHarvest operates, and this is “why we are firmly committed to this charity”.

Cooper Investors recently organised a lunch, using rescued food, to spread the OzHarvest story to Melbourne’s business and philanthropic community.

Cooper says the involvement of Woolworths, now in the third year of its partnership with OzHarvest, highlights the important links between the business and philanthropic world.  The relationship is, in fact, a three-way one with Cooper Investors, an active fund manager, on the register as a shareholder of Woolworths.

“We are values-based investors and we love backing people who think like owners, and both Woolworths Managing Director Brad Banducci and OzHarvest Founder and Chief Executive Officer Ronni Kahn fit this mould. They exude focussed management behaviour, and that’s a key attribute we look for in companies in which we invest and in charitable organisations that we support.

Authenticity is one of Cooper Investor’s five cultural values and the team is constantly searching for companies whose management and team share similar values.

“When you appreciate Woolworths’ commitment to OzHarvest, to the fact food is being ‘rescued’ currently from more than 300 of its stores around Australia and contributing about 30 per cent of the food collected, then you know you are backing a business that backs the community.

“Reducing food waste – its estimated about one-third of all food produced in Australia is wasted – is clearly a critical issue for Woolworths’ customers. So, when the company gets involved in reducing food waste and meeting a community need, then its aligning its long-term interests with its customers.

“That’s a powerful message, and, as an active fund manager, it’s another compelling reason to be on the share register.”

Cooper Investors contributes financially to OzHarvest via its employee-run philanthropy fund and Peter Cooper’s family foundation, the Maitri Foundation.

OzHarvest, the brainchild of Kahn, was established 14 years ago, and today delivers about 125 tonnes of food weekly to 1300 charitable organisations for distribution to the three million Australians Kahn says suffer from “food insecurity”.

“To achieve what we do the commitment of businesses such as Woolworths and Cooper Investors is invaluable. But it’s not just the time and money they give. It’s the palpable enthusiasm they have for our cause which ripples across the broader business community, enticing more people and companies to commit to our cause.”

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