If you’ve taken one of our courses or have read our newsletters before, you are aware of socially responsible investors and non-traditional forms of capital.

Having been in this movement for over 20 years, I can tell you things have advanced significantly and I’m proud to be a small part of that. We’ve moved past triple bottom line returns (people, planet, prosperity) to more justice and equity criteria. I believe it is a more holistic approach and allows capital to serve people.

RSF Social Finance coined the term Integrated Capital. It’s an approach to impact investing with a “coordinated use of different forms of financial capital and non-financial resources to support strategies and enterprises working to solve complex social and environmental problems.”

As a Senior Program Officer at LISC Houston, I saw the value of investing long-term in local community capacity building and development with a project called Great Opportunity (GO) Neighborhoods. I saw grant investments into neighborhood civic leadership development that two years later, resulted in a tour bus full of impact investors interested in commercial, educational and social projects around Houston.

Ownership and governance of projects, businesses, and funds are emerging trends in impact investing that have gained momentum. This translates to being more inclusive and empowering to those that build rooted-wealth.

This could look like a cooperative form of governance where impact investor shares have limited voting rights or projects and funds that are targeted explicitly to people groups or underserved persons. Such forms of governance were common in agriculture, and continue to spread into other sectors that offer community-wide benefits. Here are two emerging fund examples:

Sunwealth created the Solar Impact Fund to democratize access to clean energy and financing.They serve as a financial intermediary serving both investors (by generating a powerful return in capital and financing more than 70 solar project developers) and installers (through creation of green jobs that benefit communities).

The Black Farmers Fund’s mission is to nurture black community wealth and health by investing in black agricultural systems in the Northeast. They also provide 1:1 support through business coaching and technical assistance to black farmers.

A regional place-based fund is the new Invest Appalachia Fund, where I serve on the first Investment Committee. We use a blended capital platform, designed to accelerate and expand community investment across Central Appalachia. Our impact targets include:

  • Creative Placemaking – Downtown Revitalization & Community Livability, Place-based Tourism and Economic Development, typically through arts, culture, and identity projects.
  • Food & Agriculture – Farmer Livelihoods, Market Development, Healthy Food Access, Working Lands Conservation and Sustainability
  • Community Health – Housing and Affordable Housing, Health Care, Healthy Lifestyle, Education and Childcare
  • Clean Energy – Green Buildings and Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy Economy, Energy Democracy, Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation

I’m delighted to continue to be a part of this movement to make sure that capital is serving people, rather than people always serving capital (especially as it relates to who owns the means of creating wealth and capital). If you are interested in talking more about your journey with impact investing be sure to book a call with me.

About the Author Paul Wright

Paul Wright is the founder of WVS Courses and Coaching, and is passionate about helping entrepreneurs launch and grow new enterprises. He especially enjoys working with social innovators who create a greater good in the world with their businesses.

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