Tag: Impact Investing

Speed of Trust-A Native American Investment of Restorative Ag and Economics by Theo Ferguson

Speed of Trust: A Native American Investment Example of Restorative Agriculture and Economics

By Theo Ferguson, Healing Living Systems

Theo Ferguson of Healthy Living Systems

(above) Kevin Pourier’s Buffalo Horn Art: Connoting the achievement of bringing the Buffalo back. “wasna” carrying container by a hunter or warrior for nutrient dense “fast food”.

 

As White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy espouses, we need to think in systemic terms when tackling our collective challenges — COVID, economic downturn, seeking social justice to heal racism, and climate change — these are all challenges that must be approached together. Our best guides — environmentally, socially, in governance practices and economically — are still our Indigenous brothers and sisters.

Eighty percent of the earth’s biodiversity is stewarded by 5 percent of the indigenous people living on 25 percent of the world’s land surfaces. Indigenous people, as a culture, have been very successful in living in balance with the environment.1 One could attest that their multi-dimensional, multi-generational ways of living and their spiritual connection with the lands and all species is the fundamental chord in the harmony and vitality they achieve.

Eighty percent of the earth’s biodiversity is stewarded by 5 percent of the indigenous people living on 25 percent of the world’s land surfaces. Indigenous people, as a culture, have been very successful in living in balance with the environment.

I attended the ASBC/SVC Spring Conference2 in April 2021. This session in particular impacted me — fundamentally. “Restorative Investing for Racial Justice: Learning More about the Tanka Bar Investment.” Participants included Aner Ben-Ami (Candide Group), Dawn Sherman (Native American Natural Foods (NANF)/Tanka Bar), Jeff Cyr (Raven Capital Partners), and Laina Greene (Angels of Impact). Some of the text of this article is drawn from that session.

In 2006 Native American Natural Foods (NANF), an Oglala Lakota enterprise mounted on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, launched the Tanka Bar, the first commercial bison meat-and-fruit energy bar, based on a traditional Lakota recipe called ‘wasna.’ The intent of the enterprise was to bring the Buffalo back, as the Oglala Lakota people experience themselves and the Buffalo as Sister Nations. With lean buffalo meat reintroduced into their diet, the Oglala Lakota curtailed obesity and diabetes; simultaneously reintroducing the Buffalo led to regenerated soil and community health. With a goal of equitable wealth creation within its robust supply chain, NANF aimed to create livelihoods for their community members and Native ranchers (unemployment on the reservation is around 70 percent!), and bring bison back to the prairie, with profound climate and cultural implications.

Buffalo Returns – Pine Ridge Indian Reservation was on the brink of economic ruin and tribal elders Mark and Karlene felt they could find a solution. See how their company, Tanka, used cultural tradition to help create a sustainable economy for the Lakota people. Film produced with help from American Express

After its founding in 2006 by Karlene Hunter and Mark Tilsen, NANF experienced two good years, followed by 2008’s global economic dive and being pushed out of the market by well-funded “copy-cat” competition seeking to reap the rewards of buffalo meat products. Since “giving up” was not an option, NANF CEO Dawn Sherman and team “hung on” in the isolation of Pine Ridge for 3 years. NANF kept the company alive through the strength of their creation story with Buffalo, their core indigenous values, their leadership nation-wide and their on-line marketing. NANF negotiated a strategic partnership with Niman Ranch, which covered sales and supply chain management; brought in their primary bison supplier as a strategic partner; and built up their Advisors and Board. They found in the Candide Group, an equity investor partner, ready to provide regenerative funding for their food enterprise that upholds indigenous values using traditional recipes.

Aner Ben-Ami of the Candide Group3 is involved in redefining investing within the firm. Ben-Ami working with the Candide Group partner base, developed a model of investing that is based on food justice. The Group seeks through its investments to promote social justice and equity; they aim to help re-define who wins and who loses in our economy. The Group casts a wide net, knowing many issues are deeply intersectional and no issue is more intersectional than food. Our food industry can be redesigned to create wealth for the historically disadvantaged—often people of color (POC) workers/suppliers—as well as to serve healthy and nutritious food to lower income (often POC) communities. As investors, as we move capital away from an extraction economy to one based on shared ownership, it is critical to evaluate each enterprise’s fundamental principles.

Jeff Cyr is Managing Partner of Raven Capital Partners’ Raven Indigenous Impact Fund (RIIF)4, Canada’s first Indigenous financial intermediary. The Fund is working at the Canada-US Border practicing Restorative Economics. The group’s fundamental perspective is relationality in place-based capital, using money as medicine5 in service of Restorative Economics. Given Raven Capital’s focus, it was a natural alliance for Jeff to work with Candide Group’s Ben-Ami on an Indigenous investment.

The Candide Group saw the Tanka Bar enterprise’s equitable wealth creation, soil health, Indigenous values, investment structures, and focus on long-term Native ownership. Dawn Sherman’s team, with her elders’ approval, worked with Aner and Jeff to move the profit-seeking—not profit-maximizing—relationship forward at the “speed of trust.”6

The investment with decolonizing outcomes has created an innovative, reasonable 8-9 percent “all boats rise” solution built as a values-relations protocol, as well as a restorative, entrepreneur-friendly deal structure.

NANF has been opposed to the idea of building the business to sell it. NANF’s goal is to create wealth for Native owners, workers and ranchers through systemic, regenerative agriculture cultivating a keystone species while building soil health and human health. NANF believes that the goals proposed can only be fulfilled if NANF stays in Native hands under 100 percent native leadership over the long term.

Ben-Ami states: This is an equity investment with meaningful departures from convention:

  • “Native override”: Any financial distribution must include more than 51% of proceeds going to Native owners. These terms differ from conventional terms in one key way. Typically, preferred equity investors are the FIRST to get repaid. If a business must be sold because it cannot generate a return for all shareholders, preferred shareholders get all proceeds until they at least get their money back. This isn’t the case here – non-indigenous equity investors would recover at most 49% of proceeds.
  • Redemption right: Investors don’t expect NANF to pursue a sale of the business, instead investors have a redemption right. Investors ask the company to buy our shares back. If that isn’t possible—i.e. the company doesn’t have the resources—investors are collectively committed to prioritizing a third-party Native buyer. This scenario would result in an INCREASE in Native ownership; additionally, non-Native shareholders’ returns would be capped at a maximum of 2x initial investment. This is very different from a typical equity investment, where investors expect the company to be sold to the highest bidder.
  • For investors working with a severely under-resourced Native-owned company, there are certain additional considerations: Costs to holistic exit could be a pro bono attorney—term sheets lead investors’ attorney. Investors took on significant percentage of legal costs given atypical terms. Investors helped fund an outsourced CFO to support the process on the company side, so that NANF’s CEO was not solely responsible for financial analyses and projections.

Ben-Ami stated: “We’re honored to be a partner to NANF’s work, and encourage others to follow their journey in using decolonized wisdom for regenerative growth.”

  • Jeff Cyr: Indigenous investors take a lot of time. With good relationships the cost could be low. Sometimes the parties share the same attorney.

 Jeff Cyr observed: “Indigenous people are on a journey together. Money is love. Money is medicine. These enterprises are cultural capital. We want to undertake these entrepreneurial deals as native American activities overseen by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. This regenerative agricultural enterprise is taking back the Buffalo, our relatives, the bringing the people back their health.”

Dawn Sherman elevated again the critical need to work with all our relations: “Mitakuye Oyasin—We are all related.” “We need to work as partners and face the storm together.”

Jeff Cyr enjoined the audience to work on restorative enterprises. “We need an economics that works for the world, not for economic exclusion.  All my relations, create an economics for the world.”

 

Article by Theo Ferguson, CEO and founder of Healing Living Systems, Inc., a CA Social Purpose Corporation. Theo has been Focused on Food, Farming and Finance Infrastructure and Social Justice, and Advocacy since 2004.

Footnotes: Find all the footnotes details here as well as some additional useful information.

 

Note to Readers – Read Dawn Sherman’s full article on “Regenerating the Land and Native Communities with Bison” she wrote for GreenMoney in 2020.

Featured Articles, Food & Farming, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

Betterment Harvest-Ag-Tech in Appalachia

Betterment Harvest: Ag-Tech in Appalachia

By Mark LaVerghetta, Land Betterment Corporation

Mark LaVerghetta-of Land Betterment CorpWe are at the forefront of a transformational shift throughout the Appalachian region and parts of the Midwest. As the United States incrementally and increasingly migrates away from fossil fuels as an energy source, the region has been left with a tremendous void in terms of lost economic opportunity.

The coal industry was once both the prominent source of energy in the U.S. and a major economic driver for this region. Today, thermal coal accounts for approximately 20 percent of the country’s generated electricity; down from approximately 40 percent in 2014. Due to specific mining conditions and cost structures, thermal coal mined from most of the Appalachian region has fallen below the economic margin, and much of the industry in the region has been forced into bankruptcies and out of business.

The downturn in the thermal coal industry has not only left the region with a void of economic opportunity and a declining tax base, but the associated coal mining bankruptcies have left a mounting number of abandoned and unfunded and under-funded environmental liabilities.

Land Betterment Corporation, a pending B-Corp, focuses on environmental solutions and a commitment to positive social and environmental impact by upcycling former coal mining and industrial sites to create sustainable community development and job creation. The company is taking a fresh yet practical approach in bringing real solutions to address these problems. Land Betterment’s two main divisions, Environmental Solutions and Sustainable Development, take a customized and holistic approach to remediate lands left behind by the legacy of the coal mining industry and other industrial activity, and repurpose certain parcels of land to bring business and jobs that fit a more modern-day economy. These new business lines focus on rebuilding or introducing an economic ecosystem in the region that is more sustainable and create jobs that are desired and fit the skillset of the local, yet displaced work force. The Company currently has Sustainable Business lines that include industries such as recycling, container-based housing, craft spirits, bee farming and Ag-Tech.

As a small example of Land Betterment’s work, its Ag-Tech division, Betterment Harvest, is currently building on the regional momentum to bring a scalable and community-based approach to sustainable agriculture which utilizes state-of-the-art, science-based practices that maximize productivity and profit while minimizing environmental damage. These technologies include a range of applications, such as indoor hydroponic systems installed in renovated and repurposed existing industrial buildings selectively positioned throughout eastern Kentucky. This sustainable development exemplifies how Land Betterment repurposes prior industrial sites left by a declining industry into new technologies that the community can embrace.

As another example, Land Betterment recently successfully bid to acquire control of a shutdown elementary school in Perry County, Kentucky. Land Betterment plans to renovate the Willard Elementary School, which was closed in 2018, and repurpose the school and surrounding property into an ag-tech center to focus on vertical and greenhouse farming. The closed school has approximately 4 acres of developable land which Land Betterment plans to upcycle into a local agriculture tech center and utilize the interior of the school for sophisticated vertical and greenhouse farming to grow various produce and plant propagation.

On this particular acquisition, Mark Jensen, Land Betterment’s Executive Chairmen commented that “We are really excited about the development of our Betterment Harvest division and the local adoption we are seeing. The Willard School is a great example of how we are approaching the Ag-Tech industry. The local community was happy to see the shutdown school repurposed for economic and community development. The region has a ton of old infrastructure and mining lands in need of environmental repair. We see the potential that these lands have in other industries, such as agriculture, and the region is in need of an economic shot in the arm. Additionally, the Appalachian region makes for an ideal Ag-Tech hub as its location places it within a one day drive of the majority of the U.S. population. The highly skilled, local workforce is excited about new opportunities, and we are excited to bring a scalable and solution-based approach to support the regional momentum in the Ag-Tech industry. The Appalachian region and the U.S, as a whole needs better access to healthy foods. With the U.S. increasingly relying on food imports, an efficient and sustainable agriculture hub in Appalachia address a lot of problems. For one, it reduces the transportation and diesel use of imported produce. It also helps in rejuvenating a region with a real and positive impact. We’re not just providing fresh produce and jobs to the communities; we’re also teaching future generations about agriculture and health”

To help advance Land Betterment’s business model in this region of the United States, the Company currently has access to over 13,000 acres of land to help foster new industry. Land Betterment is also working with the local technical college to support the activity of its Ag-Tech operations as well as to promote the education and relevant technical skill development. Mr. Jensen added, “We are excited to be at the forefront of the tremendous potential for the region to develop sustainable business practices to address some of the regional and national problems.”

Click here to learn more about Land Betterment and its impact investment opportunities.

 

Article by Mark LaVerghetta  After spending 20 plus years on sales side securities advisory, Mark has been dedicated to delivering shareholder and stakeholder value. As for the Vice President of Corporate Finance and Communication for American Resources Corp (Nasdaq: AREC) he drives retail and institutional investor communication and strategy. As a Co-Founder and Chief Governance Officer of Land Betterment (Private pending B-Corp) he ensures proper operational and corporate governance while growing sustainable businesses. Mark is a graduate of University of Virginia with a B.A. in economics while playing varsity Lacrosse.

Energy & Climate, Featured Articles, Food & Farming, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

Investing in Local Sustainable Ag and Food by Dorothy Suput-the Carrot Project

The Carrot Project: Investing in Local Sustainable Ag and Food

By Dorothy Suput, The Carrot Project

The Carrot Project logo

(above) Dorothy Suput, The Carrot Project’s Executive Director (left), with farmer Tyler Sage of Sage Farm (Bernardston, MA) and his pasture-raised heritage pigs. Photo by Genevieve Goldleaf.

During the pandemic, farmers and food producers selling locally showed their strength, as the weaknesses of our global food supply chain were exposed. Farmers relying on wholesale distribution systems, such as dairies, were dumping product because of a breakdown in supply chains. Meat processing plants slowed operations, negatively impacting supply. Meanwhile, local producers ramped up production, updated their online systems, or pivoted from institutional buyers to grocery stores and direct-to-consumer sales. Thriving local farms not only came through with good food, but continued to steward the land and give back to their communities. Our local food ecosystem’s resilience results from the incredible work ethic of farmers, buoyed by collaboration with business development programs and the help of state and federal governments, philanthropy and the growing role of private investors.

Heart Beets Farm, Steve Murray’s diversified vegetable farm in southeastern Massachusetts, shows how farmers serving local markets reacted to the pandemic. When demand for safe and local food exploded in spring 2020, Steve was able to make a rapid, confident pivot. To protect themselves and their customers, he made the risky decision to drop their farmers’ market, and close their farm stand. Instead, Heart Beets almost doubled the number of farm shares offered from 120 to 210 — and sold out.

Steve Murray of Heart Beets Farm from The Carrot Project
Steve Murray of Heart Beets Farm (Berkley, MA) dropped his farmer’s market for a CSA-only model during the pandemic – a tough decision that paid off. Photo by Alex Fitzsimmons.

This huge decision was possible because Steve tracks his numbers carefully; thanks to business support from The Carrot Project, he knew exactly which parts of his farm were most profitable. He was able to analyze his enterprises and assess a path toward profitability and stability in this tumultuous year. Shifting to online-only CSA sales worked so well he plans to retain it for the foreseeable future. Steve’s farm grew to its current state with the help of a Carrot loan to invest in equipment, backed by social impact investors and matched by a state program for beginning farms.

Investing in local and sustainable farms and food businesses strengthens communities, especially in the wake of this pandemic. “We’re all going to have some collective trauma to work through,” said Janet Steward, co-owner of Greenfield Highland Beef in Greensboro Bend, VT, and an early Carrot loan recipient. “As farmers, we have a special role in healing and care. Farmers have the gift of being able to care for their communities with food.”

The Carrot Project-Investing in Local Sustainable Ag and Food by Dorothy Suput-The Carrot Project
Janet Steward and Ray Shatney of Greenfield Highland Beef (Greensboro Bend, VT) admire one of their prizewinning Highland cows.

Opportunities to invest in local food are expanding. For example, after developing their business skills with The Carrot Project, farmers can now move on and seek other types of investments from capital providers that work with private investors, such as the PVGrows Investment Fund and Dirt Capital Partners. Three former Carrot clients have secured farmland with Dirt Capital Partners.

How did we arrive at this growing ecosystem of capital providers for local, sustainable agriculture? It didn’t happen overnight. Before banks consolidated, a trend that escalated in the 1990s, small farms could usually access capital easily. When The Carrot Project started in 2006, there was little recognition that the banking sector no longer met the needs of the small, but growing, local agricultural movement. Capital providers tended to assume that when a farmer was unable to secure capital, it was the farmer’s fault, thinking the farmer had a poor business or wouldn’t do the work to meet the needs of the lender.

This vacuum of capital for farmers led to funds working with private investors. Over the last fifteen years, the availability of capital has transformed. In addition to the funds mentioned above, private investors started Slow Money and investments took off through state, regional, and local chapters. Most New England states’ community loan funds or CDFIs, who already work with private investors, added programs to support local sustainable food and agriculture. New too are social impact funds that include food and agriculture among a broader array of opportunities, such as Vermont’s Flexible Capital Fund. In the Northeast, the newest entries include The Maine Harvest Federal Credit Union, launched in 2020, and the Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Center, which recently became a CDFI and anticipates working with private investors.

Farmer Cian Dalzell is a graduate of The Carrot Project business advisors training program-photo by Michelle Davidson-Schapiro
Cian Dalzell, a farmer in Western MA and a graduate of The Carrot Project’s training program, is now one of The Carrot Project’s business advisors. Photo by Michelle Davidson-Schapiro.

Another major shift is an increasing awareness of the critical role of business development services, which mitigate risk and support long-term viability. After The Vermont Farm and Forest Viability Program and The Carrot Project documented the critical impact of business technical assistance, and capital became more widely available than when we started, The Carrot Project’s focus shifted from providing loans to offering business technical assistance, particularly helping farmers manage their finances. Recognizing the importance of business development services also led to starting the Agricultural Viability Alliance. The Alliance’s goal is to increase the number and economic viability of farm and food businesses, by bringing together business assistant providers and organizations from across New England and New York’s Hudson Valley to address shared challenges, facilitate more uniform high-quality coverage, and share and expand limited resources.

As the landscape changes, so do the opportunities for social impact investors. Some local farm and food businesses are looking for ways to grow or scale; others are looking to build stronger community connections; and still others want to keep their businesses small and financially sustainable. The average farmers’ age in the US is 57; opportunities to invest in farmland succession, transfer, and access will continue to be important to support the massive transition of land anticipated by 2040. New funds, such as the Black Farmers Fund, and new investment opportunities to help with mitigation and adaptation to climate change are on the horizon. Others are starting to research and organize asset classes and figure out what it will take to make investing in local sustainable agriculture and food systems more readily available. These developing opportunities, combined with those that have emerged over the last 15 years, provide investors with options to join this crucial and hopeful sector that is growing good food, stewarding the land, and giving back to communities.

 

Article by Dorothy Suput, founder and executive director of The Carrot Project. Dorothy’s commitment to a sustainable food system grew out of the incredible contrasts between Midwestern agriculture, with which she grew up, and the locally focused food and farming system in Switzerland, where she lived after graduating with a BS from Purdue University. Dorothy formalized her commitment when she returned to the U.S. to complete her Masters degree, from Tufts University’s Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning program, by focusing on sustainable agriculture and non-profit management. Following graduate school, she worked as the first regional organizer on the 1995 Farm Bill for the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group under the auspices of the Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture, and subsequently, as a consultant for the Hartford Food System, Red Tomato, and The Food Project. Dorothy serves on the Board of Managers for the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund Flexible Capital Fund and the Advisory Committee for the PVGrows Investment Fund.

Featured Articles, Food & Farming, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

Reaping the Promise of Regenerative Agriculture by Craig Wichner - Farmland LP

Reaping the Promise of Regenerative Agriculture

By Craig Wichner, Farmland LP

Craig Wichner founder of Farmland LP(above) Baby lambs and their moms are an essential part of managing pasture rotations on cropland. Rather than grow corn and soy and ship it to a feedlot somewhere (ideally far away where no one can smell it), we keep the sheep directly on the farmland. The grasses and clovers convert the sun’s energy into sugar in the sweet leaves, and the sheep and cattle directly convert it to weight gain, without a corn harvester nor a transportation truck. It’s just as efficient for weight gain and results in a much higher quality product (omega 3 oils vs inflammatory omega 6 oils in corn kernels). Oregon farm (A2R farm).

 

I spent my summers growing up on a farm, and it grounded me well for the career I pursued in science, technology and real estate investing. But in 2008, with the birth of my daughter, I realized we’re not leaving the planet in great shape for her generation. I began to look at farmland again, with fresh eyes.

I dug into the data on farmland, and what I found shocked me. We may intuitively know that organic is better than conventional agriculture, but the hard-core numbers show that our agriculture system is broken. More than half of U.S. crop acreage grows only two commodity crops—corn and soy. More than 90 percent of that corn and soy is genetically modified and reliant on, even designed for increasing the use of toxic pesticides. Only 0.6 percent of American-grown corn is consumed by humans, while over 130 times that amount (80 percent) goes into ethanol or animal feed. Meanwhile, maxing out farmland on one crop—”monocropping”—is extremely harmful to the environment, contributing to topsoil erosion, water pollution, and other negative outcomes.

That’s how Farmland LP began. We saw how we could combine regenerative agriculture with savvy real estate management practices commonly found in the property sector. And today we’re the largest organic farmland manager in the country, with the highest sustainability rating among all global firms in HIP Investor’s worldwide universe of 10,000 corporations.

Rotational Grazing-Farmland LP
Cattle in rotation-intensive grazing are put in a small area to encourage rapid and full feeding on the grasses, stimulating new root and leaf production – with the roots acting to pump carbon into the soil (roots are made from sugars and carbohydrates created by photosynthesis, so the mere act of growing roots into the soil is “pumping carbon into the soil”). The cattle rotate back onto fields every 30 days or so, just in time to prevent the grasses from going to seed, and thus keeping them in their rapid-grass-and-root-growing stage. Oh and the cattle gain weight quickly resulting in premium quality grass-fed and grass-finished beef. Oregon farm.

 

Regenerative farming involves nurturing the land through healthy soil biology, crop rotations, pollinator habitat, and other science-based practices focused on making that land more vital and productive to the roots. For us, this means we look at each 20 to 40 acre field on each farm and identify its ideal crops and develop a 10-year crop rotation plan to increase soil health, plant happiness and the best economics.

Blueberries with pollinator habitat wildflowers every seven rows
The Burns Farm in California plants pollinator habitat every seven rows in our organic blueberry fields. Having native pollinators is shown to increase blueberry yields by 15% (so it’s not just to look pretty).

 

For example, for 50+ years one 4,200-acre farm we purchased had grown simple commodity crops in rotation: alfalfa, industrial corn and processing tomatoes for tomato paste. We assessed each field and identified a wide array of crops that could be grown. One of the worst patches of ground was salty and had poor soil quality, but we determined that olive trees would be happy there and found an olive oil farmer to tenant the land, increasing our potential income from a few hundred an acre to a thousand an acre once the trees matured. Next to those fields was ground that had more acidic soil that was perfect for organic blueberries – so we established a relationship with the leading organic blueberry company and grew them ourselves, increasing revenues and profits 10 to 30-fold. The olives and blueberries grow adjacent to organic vegetables in rotation to keep the farmland constantly regenerating, alternating with pasture and livestock rotations. Drip irrigation, rather than the traditional flood irrigation, not only saves water, but also helps the plants with fertilization and minimizes weeds between rows.

Olive tree farm, very drought tolerant at Burns Farm-courtesy of Farmland LP
Olive trees originated near the border of Turkey and Syria, preferring poor quality soils over rich soils (where they produce poorer oil and are more prone to disease), and being highly drought tolerant. They can produce for a long time, with some tees dated to 3,500 years old. These trees are growing well on 200 acres of our lowest-quality soil…hopefully poor enough to get the highest quality olive oil for our farmer-partner and us. Burns Farm in California.

 

Our mission at Farmland LP is to demonstrate that regenerative agriculture is more profitable than commodity agriculture and maximizes returns for investors. In doing so, we propel the regenerative movement forward, attracting more and larger investors – especially institutional investors – and the impact widens. The U.S. has $2.7 trillion worth of farmland, the same economic value as all of the apartment buildings in the country, or all of the office buildings, and yet less than two percent of that farmland is institutionally owned.

Even the most environmentally conscious and impact-driven investor seeks financial returns. Decade after decade, farmland as an asset class has provided top-decile returns with low volatility. Over the past 85 years, farmland has delivered 11 percent annualized returns unlevered, with half of those returns coming from cash flow and half from appreciation. As an asset class, it has outperformed the stock market, private equity and venture capital, with low volatility and minimal leverage. It is expected to continue on this trend in the future.

The environmental benefits are equally impressive. In a USDA study, Farmland LP’s first fund—yes, the same one with the seemingly simple olives, blueberries, and rotating organic vegetables—demonstrated $21.4 million in net ecosystem service value benefits using regenerative farm management practices at scale. We also tallied a double bottom line return of 7.3 percent annual ecosystem gain on top of 9.9 percent annualized net economic gain for investors.

But the supply of this essential asset class is shrinking. While urban land has nearly tripled since 1949, U.S. cropland has declined by 18 percent to 392 million acres. The decline is happening as the population that cropland needs to feed has more than doubled to 330 million people. It takes roughly one acre to feed one person, and while historically the U.S. has been a food-exporting nation, we are approaching a deficit. We will have to use our farmland smarter to grow healthy food in ways that that are more profitable and more productive, while improving the health of the soil, water, and ecosystem we live in and rely on.

Meanwhile, the demand for organic continues to grow—and alongside it, the profit that’s possible from regenerative farmland. In our farm’s inaugural harvest, the blueberries yielded roughly 300,000 pounds of fresh fruit and $900,000 in revenue. Certified Organic, regenerative agriculture is the reason that our rents went from just $300 per acre for conventional farmland, to renting for $700 per acre for organic farmland while being fully leased.

What’s clear from our experience is that regenerative agriculture yields organic food people want, healthy soils our kids will need, and sequestered carbon too keep our climate recognizable…all while delivering strong, market leading financial returns too. That’s a formula for a strong future.

 

Article by Craig Wichner, Founder and Managing Partner of Farmland LP, one of the largest farmland managers and the largest organic farmland manager in the U.S. Founded 12 years ago, Farmland manages 15,000 acres of high-quality farmland in Northern California, Oregon and Washington valued at over $175 million.

Featured Articles, Food & Farming, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

IA 50 2021 free database logo

ImpactAssets’ IA 50 Impact Investment Fund Managers List

Industry’s first publicly available, searchable resource of impact investing fund managers sees record number of applicants and assets, reflecting the innovation and exponential growth that the IA 50 has helped to spotlight over the past decade.

 

ImpactAssets logo

ImpactAssets recently released the ImpactAssets 50 2021 (IA 50), a free online database for impact investors, family offices, financial advisors and institutional investors that features a diversified listing of private capital fund managers delivering social and environmental impact as well as financial returns.

This year marks the tenth edition of the IA 50, and despite a tumultuous year, total assets under management (AUM) among selected fund managers jumped to a record $228 billion in 2020, up from $181 billion in 2019. Thirteen managers selected in this year’s showcase reported assets exceeding $1 billion. By comparison, in the IA 50’s inaugural year, assets totaled just $6.8 billion.

The IA 50’s Emerging Impact Manager list, which debuted in 2020 and spotlights newer fund managers that demonstrate potential to create meaningful impact, also saw significant growth. The number of emerging fund managers across a variety of themes and geographies included in this year’s list grew to 41, up from 16 managers in 2020. Total AUM increased to $917 million, up from $397 million last year.

“When we launched the IA 50, we knew there was tremendous potential for impact investing, but realized many interested investors weren’t aware of the incredible range of impact fund managers available to them. As the field has evolved, we have also become aware of the large number of innovative fund managers not identified via our traditional networks,” said Jed Emerson, ImpactAssets Senior Fellow and IA 50 Review Committee Chair. “More recently we have expanded the lens of our process to capture more breadth and diversity of impact fund managers and in doing so have also chronicled the progress made by impact investors as well as the work that still needs to be done.”

This year’s list revealed several investing trends:

CDFIs Take Center Stage –  Seven Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) were selected in this year’s IA 50, reflecting the critical role CDFIs have played during the COVID-19 pandemic — from distributing PPP loans to supporting small businesses within rural, indigenous and low-income communities, and communities of color. These organizations represent both national and locally-focused community funders and manage a combined $18.7 billion in assets which are catalyzed for creating jobs, building affordable housing and financing community services in underserved low-income communities.

New Category –  In another reflection of the growth of impact investing, the IA 50 added a new Emeritus category this year highlighting 27 managers with a combined AUM of $8.8B. These fund managers have been on the IA 50 for at least five years; 10 managers have been on the list for all 10 years of the IA 50. The Emeritus list enables the IA 50 to continue to recognize the important contributions of these established managers, while making room for deserving new managers.

Investment Targets –  In 2020, the global pandemic and subsequent economic downturn affected communities worldwide, and IA 50 fund managers focused on some of those hardest hit.? A total of 63% of managers targeted investment in rural communities, while 54% specifically benefitted people of color and 48% were focused on advancing women-led businesses. Two-thirds (67%) of managers said their firm focused on underdeveloped markets where the market is relatively new, emerging or subject to systemic challenges. 

Diversity and Inclusion –  ?While fund management remains overwhelmingly non-diverse, IA 50 fund managers are leading with diversity. This is especially true of the IA 50 Emerging Impact Managers, where 51% reported more than half of their investment professionals were women and 54% said more than half of their investment professionals were people of color.

Impact and Financial Return   ?Impact fund managers remained focused on delivering both positive impact and investment performance. A total of 87% of IA 50 fund managers targeted market rate or above rates of return and 92% delivered either in line or above their target returns. Emerging Impact Managers reported similar results, with 63% targeting market rates of return or above, and 98% delivering either in line or above their initial target returns.

“The growth we’ve seen in the IA 50 over the past decade is reflective of the growth, maturity and increased diversity of the impact investing industry as a whole,” added Sandra Osborne Kartt, CFA, Director, Investments, ImpactAssets. “Along with the Emeritus and Emerging Impact Manager lists, this year’s IA 50 represents the vast array of impact themes and strategies available to impact investors today.”

In addition to Emerson and Osborne Kartt, the IA 50 Review Committee is comprised of an expanded group of impact investment experts and leaders, including Lauren Booker Allen, Senior Vice President, Impact Advisory, Jordan Park Group; Mark Berryman, Managing Director of Impact Investing, The CAPROCK Group; Ronald A. Homer, Chief Strategist, Impact Investing, RBC Global Asset Management (US) Inc.; Karl “Charly” Kleissner, Ph.D., Co-Founder of Toniic and KL Felicitas Foundation; Malaika Maphalala, CPWA® Private Wealth Advisor, Natural Investments, LLC; Cynthia Muller, Director of Mission Investment, W.K. Kellogg Foundation; Rehana Nathoo, Founder & CEO, Spectrum Impact; Stephanie Cohn Rupp, CEO and Partner, Veris Wealth Partners; Fran Seegull, Executive Director, U.S. Impact Investing Alliance, Ford Foundation; Liesel Pritzker Simmons, Co-Founder and Principal of Blue Haven Initiative; Julia Sze, CFA, Impact Investor, Julia W. Sze Consulting and Margret Trilli, President and CIO, ImpactAssets.

Osborne Kartt and Jennifer Kenning, CEO and Co-Founder of Align Impact and IA 50 Senior Investment Advisor, led the ImpactAssets and Align Impact Investment teams in the application scoring and analysis process.

 

About the ImpactAssets 50
The IA 50 is the first publicly available database that provides a gateway into the world of impact investing for investors and their financial advisors, offering an easy way to identify experienced impact investment firms and explore the landscape of potential investment options. The IA 50 is intended to illustrate the breadth of impact investment fund managers operating today, though it is not a comprehensive list, Firms have been selected to demonstrate a wide range of impact investing activities across geographies, sectors and asset classes.
 

The IA 50 is not an index or investable platform and does not constitute an offering or recommend specific products. It is not a replacement for due diligence. In order to be considered for the IA 50 2021, fund managers needed to have at least $25 million in assets under management, more than three years of experience as a firm with impact investing, documented social and/or environmental impact and be available for US investment. Additional details on the selection process are available here.

 The IA 50 Emerging Impact Manager list is intended to spotlight newer fund managers that may demonstrate future potential to create meaningful impact. Criteria such as minimum track record or minimum assets under management may not be applicable.

 The IA 50 Emeritus Impact Manager list illuminates impact fund managers who have achieved consistent recognition on the IA 50. 

About ImpactAssets

ImpactAssets is the leading impact investing partner for individuals, families and philanthropists tackling the world’s greatest challenges by investing in the world’s brightest ideas. We make it easy for our clients to “discover, connect and invest” in game-changing entrepreneurs and funds. Founded in 2010, ImpactAssets increases flows of money to impact investing with our 100% impact investment platform and field-building initiatives, including the IA 50 database of private debt and equity impact fund managers.  

The ImpactAssets Donor Advised Fund is an innovative vehicle that empowers donors to increase the impact of their giving by combining it with strategic, sustainable and responsible investing to build a sophisticated philanthropic endowment. The Fund currently has more than $1.4 billion in assets in 1,400 donor advised funds, working with 350 wealth advisors across 60 financial services firms.

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Claire Smith-Beyond Investing platform

Beyond Investing–World’s First Vegan Investment Platform

Summary

Beyond Investing logoClaire Smith (pictured above), the founder of the Beyond Investing platform, is a financial markets veteran of 35 years, whose career takes in JP Morgan Chase, UBS, Albourne Partners as well as running her own consulting business for 5 years. The Beyond investment management companies, formed in 2017, comprise Beyond Advisors, parent of Beyond Investing LLC, the advisor to the world’s first cruelty-free and environmentally friendly ETF and Beyond Impact Advisors, a specialist in investing in plant-based and cruelty-free start-ups and animal-replacing foodtech and biotech. In addition, Claire has co-founded Beyond Animal, a tech platform with the aim of accelerating the growth of the vegan economy, through the provision of a funding portal for vegan businesses which benefits from a FINMA No Action letter and FCA regulatory cover.

Background

Claire took a Masters in Chemical Engineering and Business Management at Imperial College London but moved into finance in 1985, since working in chemicals and oil refining, the primary jobs available to chemical engineers at the time, were unappealing given her concern for animals and the environment. Initially trained as a credit analyst at Chase Manhattan Bank, Claire switched into options dealing in London’s embryonic options markets, developed warrants trading and issuance, and ultimately ran the London convertible sales desk in 1995, structuring multiple bespoke derivatives transactions before leaving UBS in 1998.

After a period of time as a freelance journalist, during which she published over 125 articles in the financial press, and consultant on fund research to London funds of funds, Claire joined Albourne Partners in 2004, assuming responsibility of quantitative equity strategies, taking in systematic quantitative equity, convertible arbitrage and volatility and hedging strategies. She was admitted to the partner program in 2007 and became a shareholder of Albourne in 2010.

In her philanthropic work, Claire founded 100 Women in Finance in Geneva in 2007 and oversaw its growth in Switzerland through till 2014, as a member of the London Board, organizing over 100 events, including seven Galas which raised well over $1 million for charity. Claire served on the Board of AVVEC, a Geneva-based charity that provides support to victims of domestic violence. She is the President of Beyond Cruelty Foundation, formed in 2018 to campaign for zero animal exploitation and to fund safe havens for animals. She co-founded a group to campaign against testing of GMO canola seeds in the English countryside in 1999.

Mission

Claire is motivated to use her skills in the financial arena to invest for a kinder, cleaner, healthier world. Being vegetarian/vegan since the age of 15, her primary area of focus is the avoidance of animal exploitation, with associated benefits for human health and the environment, in particular climate change and preservation of biodiversity, a global problem. The investment thesis of the platform is to deprive companies that cause harm to animals and the environment of investment and to deploy capital towards those companies who are engaged in plant-based or animal-replacing products and services.

Change in society comes from an alignment of three levers, Consumers, Citizens and Capital. Consumers have a role to play in choosing sustainable and cruelty-free products, provided these are made available on the market. Citizens can campaign for laws, regulations, subsidies and fiscal policies to be amended in favor of protecting animals and the environment. Capital is a vital piece of the puzzle, since what gets financed gets done, and conversely, the withdrawal of financing constrains damaging companies. Claire aims to direct global Capital flows in such a way that support the efforts of Consumers and Citizens and enable the growth of companies providing solutions and the decline of companies whose practices harm animals and destroy biodiversity.

Around the world there is a clear trend for Capital to become more conscious and multiple investing structures need to be set up. Vegans have till now had nowhere to put their money given the near absence of fund products that address their concerns. Equally, vegan founders have been starved of capital to fund and grow their businesses. It is these needs that Claire seeks to address through her Beyond initiatives.

The Platform

As opposed to focusing in one narrow area of financial markets, the Beyond Investing platform seeks to provoke capital flows across the spectrum of capital markets and funding.

Within the large cap space, Beyond Investing designs cruelty-free and climate-friendly investing programs in public equity markets and is the architect of the US Vegan Climate Index, a stock index which screens out all animal exploitation and fossil fuel and other causes of harm to humans and the environment, from a US market benchmark. The first instrument on this Index was listed on the NYSE as the US Vegan Climate ETF (ticker: VEGN) in September 2019. With around 280 stocks, and largely market cap-weighted, this product provides a solution for retail and institutional investors who wish to embed cruelty-fee and environmentally friendly principles in their core US large cap allocation.

The US Vegan Climate Index is the first of a range of stock and bond indexes that enshrine the same set of policies, in Europe, Asia, emerging markets, and globally.

Whereas in current stock markets, there are few purely vegan and cruelty-free companies, there are several impending IPOs in the space, due to their rapid growth. To exploit this growing market sector, Beyond Investing has created a small to midcap growth strategy, called the Vegan World strategy, by sifting through global listed equity markets for companies whose products already adhere to vegan principles and could benefit from increasing demand for cruelty-free products. This portfolio of 30-60 stocks provides a thematic play on the vegan theme, spread across the entire food and materials supply chain.

At the bottom end of the scale, Beyond Impact’s vegan venture capital offering is proactively seeking out high potential start-ups and early stage growth companies whose products are superior, scalable and sustainable and thus have the potential to save many animals lives, as well as targeting exceptional investment returns. Since 2017, the portfolio has made investments in 23 companies segmented across themes of cultivated and plant-based replacements to products derived from animals, healthy vegan convenience foods, animal testing alternatives and cruelty-free lifestyle products.

Lastly, Beyond Animal seeks to provide funding solutions through drawing in a wider audience of investors. Beyond Animal will leverage the commitment of the vegan community, as well as the broader support of sustainable and impact investors globally, to provide access to funding to companies across all sectors and geographies, provided that their products accelerate the transition to a kinder, cleaner, healthier world.

Important Information Regarding VEGN

It is not possible to invest directly in an index. Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. Shares of any ETF are bought and sold at market price (not NAV), may trade at a discount or premium to NAV and are not individually redeemed from the Fund. Brokerage commissions will reduce returns. Investments in mid-cap securities involve additional risk such as limited liquidity and greater volatility. The index methodology may cause the Fund to underperform the broader equity market or other funds which do not utilize such criteria. The Fund’s return may not match or achieve a high degree of correlation with the return of the underlying Index. To the extent the Fund utilizes a representative sampling approach, it may experience tracking error to a greater extent than if the Fund had sought to replicate the Index. The fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses must be considered carefully before investing. The prospectus contains this and other important information about the investment company, and it may be obtained by calling 1-800-617-0004 or visiting www.veganetf.com . Read it carefully before investing. Beyond Investing LLC is the adviser to the US Vegan Climate ETF. VEGN is distributed by Quasar Distributors, LLC.

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Green Century Funds celebrates 30th Anniversary-GreenMoney

Green Century Funds Celebrates their 30th Anniversary

Green Century is pleased to commemorate its 30th anniversary in 2021.

“When Green Century was launched in 1991, aligning your investments with your values was no easy feat. Thankfully, a group of nonprofit leaders in The Public Interest Network recognized the need and desire for environmentally-responsible investing,” said Jim Starr, chair of the Board of Trustees of the Green Century Funds. “Thirty years later, Green Century’s unique and authentic approach to sustainable investing is more popular than ever.”

The assets under management (AUM) of the Green Century Funds have grown more than 60% in just two years.

Green Century has celebrated a number of milestones in its three decades of operation:

  • In 1991, Green Century launched its Equity Fund, one of the earliest environmentally-screened environmental, social, and governance (ESG) mutual funds in the U.S.
  • In 1992, with the launch of the Balanced Fund, Green Century became the first family of environmentally-screened ESG mutual funds in the U.S.
  • In 2009, the Green Century Balanced Fund became the first mutual fund in the U.S. to calculate its carbon footprint.
  • In 2014, having long previously divested from coal and large oil and gas corporations, Green Century jettisoned the last remnants of any fossil fuel holdings and became the first family of fossil fuel free, responsible, and diversified mutual funds in the U.S.
  • In 2016, Green Century launched its MSCI International Index Fund, the first fossil fuel free, diversified, and responsible international index fund available to investors in the U.S.
  • In 2018, Green Century was the first financial institution in the U.S. to be recognized by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, as a Hall of Fame financial institution.

“Green Century owes its success to the vision and foresight of the nonprofit leaders who launched Green Century, especially Mindy Lubber, who served as Green Century’s first president and Doug Phelps, who was Green Century’s primary architect and remains an invaluable member of our board of trustees,” said Green Century President Leslie Samuelrich. “We also are grateful to all of the other members of the Board of Trustees who have volunteered their time over the years and all of Green Century’s employees, past and present, whose tireless work helped make this milestone a reality. Now, onto the next 30 years of environmental impact.”

 

About Green Century Capital Management

Green Century Capital Management, Inc. (Green Century) is the investment advisor to the Green Century Funds (The Funds). The Green Century Funds are the first family of fossil fuel free, responsible, and diversified mutual funds in the United States. Green Century Capital Management hosts an award-winning and in-house shareholder advocacy program and is the only mutual fund company in the U.S. wholly owned by environmental and public health nonprofit organizations.

You should carefully consider the Fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses before investing. To obtain a Prospectus that contains this and other information about the Funds please click here, email info@greencentury.com , or call 1-800-934-7336. Please read the Prospectus carefully before investing.

Stocks will fluctuate in response to factors that may affect a single company, industry, sector, country, region or the market as a whole and may perform worse than the market. Foreign securities are subject to additional risks such as currency fluctuations, regional economic and political conditions, differences in accounting methods, and other unique risks compared to investing in securities of U.S. issuers. Bonds are subject to a variety of risks including interest rate, credit, and inflation risk. A sustainable investment strategy which incorporates environmental, social and governance criteria may result in lower or higher returns than an investment strategy that does not include such criteria.

This information has been prepared from sources believed reliable. The views expressed are as the date of this writing and are those of the Advisor to the Funds.

The Green Century Funds are distributed by UMB Distribution Services, LLC. 235 W Galena Street, Milwaukee, WI 53212. 3/21

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Forbes-Sallie Krawcheck Leads Ellevest to $1 Billion AUM

Forbes: Sallie Krawcheck Leads Ellevest to $1 Billion AUM

Forbes logoSallie Krawcheck has not forgotten what the skeptics said about Ellevest, her women’s-focused investment platform, before the service even launched. “It was like, ‘This is gonna fail; other people have tried and failed,’” she recalls. “And also, ‘What is for women anyway? That’s sort of dumb!’”

Five and a half years later, Krawcheck can finally mock these slights. She lets out a whoop and raises her hands above her head as she tells Forbes, exclusively and in a video chat, about the milestone Ellevest just hit: $1 billion in assets under management.

“It actually has been compounding, as you sort of expect assets under management to do, where the first $10 million took forever, the second $10 million takes less, and so on,” Krawcheck, who is also Ellevest’s CEO, says. She acknowledges that the service more than doubled its assets under management (AUM) in 2020 but says this was not entirely the result of a rebounding market boosting the value of users’ portfolios—instead, it came from clients consistently shuffling money into their Ellevest accounts.

“What I’m particularly proud of is that it happened during a pandemic. And very importantly, that at a time when you would think women would be more pulled back, we actually had net positive inflows every single week of the year,” she says. Money wasn’t necessarily flooding in—and in fact, Ellevest’s own data shows that as the so-called she-cession has taken hold, average monthly deposits have decreased from $740 to $474—but it was still coming in, not going out. This is especially notable, given how the rest of Wall Street was performing last year: According to Morningstar, U.S. equity funds posted $241 billion in outflows in 2020, which is more than the four next-worst years combined (2015, 2011, 2009 and 2020).

Ellevest has 123,000 clients with an average account size of $8,000. While the typical user is a woman in her 30s who is also saving money in a 401(k) at work, Krawcheck notes that Ellevest has investors ranging from 18 to 106 years old. A small portion of the business also focuses on higher-net-worth clients; a “triple digit” number of accounts hold $1 million or more, which is a demographic Krawcheck did not originally intend to address with Ellevest, but the events of recent years changed her mind.

Read Maggie McGrath’s full article here

 

Maggie McGrath is an associate editor at Forbes and the editor of ForbesWomen, the Forbes vertical dedicated to covering all angles of female entrepreneurship.  

[Note to Reader: Sallie Krawcheck wrote a compelling article, Why Investing in Women is Crucial Right Now for GreenMoney last year.]

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Barron’s: The 100 Women Making their Mark in the World of Finance

Barrons LogoWomen have made enormous strides in the past year in the public sector. America elected its first female vice president, Kamala Harris, in November. Janet Yellen now serves as the nation’s first female secretary of the Treasury, and the 117th U.S. Congress includes a record 143 women, or 27% of its total membership.

Women are also achieving greater prominence and power in the private sector, and particularly in the world of finance, where Citigroup (ticker: C) CEO Jane Fraser just became the first woman to lead a major U.S. money-center bank. Thasunda Brown Duckett, a JPMorgan Chase (JPM) executive, was recently named CEO of TIAA, the $1.3 trillion-in-assets financial-services firm. And Stacey Cunningham heads the New York Stock Exchange, while Adena Friedman is president and CEO of Nasdaq (NDAQ), which owns the other major U.S. stock exchange.

Fraser, Duckett, Cunningham, Friedman, and Yellen are just a few of the highly accomplished, path-breaking women named to Barron’s second annual list of the 100 Most Influential Women in U.S. Finance. And these 100 honorees—a group that includes banking and brokerage executives, money managers and research analysts, financial-company CEOs, public servants, and policy makers—are but a fraction of the army of women whose contributions are strengthening the financial-services industry and the U.S. financial system, as both prepare for the challenges ahead.

Those challenges loom especially large in the midst of a pandemic, and at a time when disruptive technologies are upending every industry, not to mention the very concept of money.

Barron’s list isn’t a ranking; it’s presented alphabetically. We will publish profiles of all 100 women, unveiling 10 new profiles alphabetically each week.

Click here to read profiles of The 100 Most Influential Women in U.S. Finance.

To develop Barron’s 100 Most Influential Women list, we solicited nominations from readers, finance-industry insiders, and Barron’s writers and editors, who keep tabs not only on Wall Street’s movers and shakers, but also on lower-profile executives with outsize influence and leadership potential. Even Bono, the Irish singer and activist, weighed in this year, nominating Bank of America (BAC) Vice Chairman Anne Finucane in a personal letter extolling “her longtime pursuit of conscious capitalism and the role business can play in addressing the toughest challenges of our time.”

For this, and many other reasons, Finucane, too, earned a spot on our 2021 list.

As was the case last year, we received hundreds of nominations—and selecting 100 honorees from a pool of such impressive candidates was no easier the second time around. The final list was determined by a panel of Barron’s journalists.

The women on our list are all based in the U.S. They were chosen on the basis of their achievements, leadership, and influence within their respective organizations, and their capacity to shape their business or the industry in the future.

This year’s roster has 28 new names, find out who they are and much more in Leslie P. Norton’s extensive article in Barron’s.

 

Leslie P. Norton is a senior writer with Barron’s, and has also served as mutual funds editor, Asia editor, and a columnist. Prior to joining Barron’s in 1993, she worked for an investment manager and helped launch the London bureau of Bloomberg News.

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Financial Feminism by Jessica Robinson-GreenMoney

Financial Feminism: A Woman’s Guide to Investing for a Sustainable Future

Jessica Robinson and book, Financial FeminismFor those of us that have been in the sustainable investment space for some time, it is reassuring to finally be getting airtime. The mainstreaming of sustainable investing is what we have been aiming for and so I embrace the progress we are making with open arms. That said, we still have many miles to travel – particularly when it comes to fully activating retail investors. This has always been my focus with Moxie Future – a platform and community for engaging with women, in particular, on sustainable investing – and now my new book, Financial Feminism: A Woman’s Guide to Investing for a Sustainable Future.

Why Focus on Women?

Unsurprisingly I get this question a lot! For many years I was struck by the number of professional women who would approach me after I spoke at a conference or would reach out to me on LinkedIn – the commonality being they wanted to learn more about sustainable investing and what they could do to take action through their personal investments. This then led me to try to understand more about women and sustainable investing.

At the time there was limited research but over the last few years we have plenty of evidence that women are highly motivated to think about impact and non-financial returns in their investment and financial decisions. Moxie Future has undertaken its own research – across different countries – and the findings are loud and clear. Women really do care about where their money is going.

At the same time, we also know that many women tend to feel disengaged with the financial industry, often patronized by financial advisors and excluded from the marketing and design of investment products. This needs to change – particularly as the proportion of private wealth held by women grows rapidly.

Financial Feminism–More Than Earning and Investing on a Par with Men

Of course, as with all things related to feminism, we are talking about equality – in this case, obviously the belief in the financial equality of women. The concept is rapidly gathering momentum across the world, as we wake up to the ongoing challenges that many women continue to face when it comes to money and the very apparent lack of progress we are making.

However, and this is the crux of my book, I believe that financial feminism is not just about women earning and investing on a par with men. Financial feminism represents the opportunity for women to use their financial power to build the kind of world that they want to live in. Financial feminism gives women a voice to determine how the world should change for the better.

I find the concept of financial feminism deeply inspiring – on both a personal and a professional level. I genuinely believe we can take powerful strides forward by recognizing the importance of what financial feminism is demanding, but also the solutions needed to address these demands. Through my book, and Moxie Future, I am trying to take this message mainstream.

What Motivated Me to Write the Book?

Writing the book was a true labor of love. I am continually frustrated by the limited progress we are making. I urgently want to do more and, in taking action, I want to connect with women across the world on the possibilities of what they can do with their money.

Through the chapters of the book, I introduce women to the concept of sustainable investing, its history and how it sits across different asset classes. I leverage the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for developing our priorities and provide a detailed roadmap on how to move forward. I explore how sustainable investing can be done in practice but also the challenges we need to overcome, all the way referencing examples, case studies and existing products and resources. Finally, I shine a spotlight on key issues including gender-lens investing, the role of financial services and how technology is shifting the landscape.

By the end of the book, I have a vision that the reader will feel truly empowered to take the next step. I want her to feel confident that she could have a conversation about sustainable investing – with friends, partners, parents. I also want to encourage her to head to her bank or meeting with her financial advisor and confidently express what matters in terms of her investment decisions and not be patronized or fed misinformation.

And then I want to encourage these women to help spread the word, have profound conversations about the future of money and what it can mean for us. This ‘call to action’ is really important to me because this is when talk becomes a movement.

Next Steps…

Excitingly, the book hit the ‘virtual’ shelves last month. I wrote it very much as an accessible and easy-read, aimed at women who may have limited experience in investing or are struggling at knowing where to start. It is global in scope and application, so I truly hope it will reach all corners of the world.

The feedback has been incredibly positive so far – I often receive comments such as ‘this is the book I have been waiting for’ and ‘I have already bought copies for my sister / best friend’. There is nothing more rewarding than knowing I am sowing seeds and hopefully inspiring women to dive in

Moxie Future, and the book, are passion projects – a unusual hobby, if you like! I love writing, I love communicating – and most importantly, I love the enthusiasm and excitement that I see when I talk about these issues with women.

 

Article by Jessica Robinson, founder and Managing Director of Moxie Future and author of Financial Feminism – A Woman’s Guide to Investing for a Sustainable Future.

About the book – In this practical and accessible guide, sustainable investment expert Jessica Robinson shows how, through financial feminism, women can use their financial power to invest in a sustainable future and build the kind of world they want to live in. With jargon-free explanations and real-world examples, she demystifies the financial services industry, breaks down just what sustainable investing is and demonstrates the?societal and environmental impact of the investment.

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