Medium | Impact Investing Insights: Arowana’s approach to total societal impact (TSI)


Meet Ceilidh O’Sullivan. She is a young woman whose curiosity for how homes were built and her determination to pursue a career in building and construction led her to Everthought Education, Arowana’s building and construction college. Proudly, she now has her carpentry license and is certified to be a site supervisor. But Ceilidh’s aspirations are higher. She wants to be a Building Designer and is continuing her studies while working part-time.

As a “Lady Tradie”, the fact that the industry is male-dominated was only a part of the challenges she faced. The biggest one for Ceilidh was that she is deaf. This could have been an obstacle on the learning front, but with the help of Everthought, Ceilidh was able to pursue her goal. With support from Everthought’s trainers and the flexibility of an online course, Ceilidh was given guidance and feedback about her career choices. She is now well on her way towards achieving her goals and we applaud her for her desire, her ability, and her tenacity in motivating herself to the fulfil her ambition.


Stories like Ceilidh’s helps the Arowana Team realise that what we do really matters and has an impact on others. From the outset, Arowana has been in the business of operating and scaling up small-to-medium sized businesses (SMEs) which are the backbone of any economy. Our aim is to find businesses that serve a real purpose within their industries and in society who need our support to manoeuvre into sustained growth. Arowana’s other operating companies are focussed on solar energy and thermal safety inspections.

Arowana founded VivoPower in 2014, a global solar development group that has since successfully developed and operated utility-scale solar farms in the US, generating 91 MW of power that is delivered to over 21,000 homes and offsetting approximately 59,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year. In addition, rather than sending slightly damaged but operational solar panels to landfill, VivoPower created an initiative for a low-income community solar farm comprising of 2 MW of solar power. The electricity revenues from this initiative will be used to make the project self-sustaining on an ongoing basis and to offset 100% of the electricity needs for 100 very low-income homeowners.

When Arowana acquired Thermoscan, a 30-year-old safety and electrical failure prevention business, from its terminally ill founder, his wish was to see his legacy grow. Arowana transformed Thermoscan from a paper-based business into an interactive database-driven system, digitising paper-based working processes.  This enabled technicians to operate more effectively, increased the number of sites inspected, and reduced the number of potential catastrophic events occurring.

Building Purpose and Value

At Arowana we believe that if we grow our people, we will grow our companies, and we will grow value for all our stakeholders. Internally, we have set up the Arowana University that provides training and development for our team. We recently appointed Dr Tara Swart as Arowana’s Chief Neuroscience Officer to help us be more mindful in our daily lives and to help us perform more sustainably.

To solidify our purpose in society, Arowana became a certified B Corp in May 2018. B Corps are for-profit companies that have met B-Lab's rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. There was no doubt the assessment was comprehensive. Most importantly, the assessment was a useful guide which enabled us to evaluate our total societal impact (TSI), and now offers us the opportunity to improve our TSI as our journey continues.

For too long, environmental and social issues have been relegated to government policy makers and NGOs to deal with.  But today, we live in a world that is far more aware and socially attuned to these issues. Everyday consumers and investors alike are consciously and purposefully making choices that are linked not just to their needs but to the societal impact that is achieved: How is the company that I am doing business with creating a positive impact? How are they protecting the environment? How are they improving employability and financial inclusion?

Additionally, as pointed out by the Boston Consulting Group, when companies adopt a lens that focusses on total societal impact when setting strategy, they will reduce the risk of significant negative events and open up valuable new opportunities and increase corporate longevity. Arowana has a long-term commitment to help future-proof our businesses so that we can continue to serve not only within the industries we operate but in society as well.

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