As some of you may know, in my prior life before Lunapads, I worked in the field of Finance and Accounting, and got a small taste of what shareholder value and corporate profits meant in the mainstream world of finance. It was my dissatisfaction with the type of work I was doing that prompted me to leave for ‘greener’ pastures, which, coincidentally, coincided with meeting Madeleine!
Over a decade ago, there was a small collection of organizations who promoted the idea of ethical investing and created ethical funds which consisted of companies that had been screened for their ethical business practices. What emerged was a niche Ethical/Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) category in the financial sector. However, many of these funds did not attract the interest of mainstream investors because they didn’t perform adequately (because it’s all about maximizing financial returns in their world).
Fortunately, there seems to be a change in the tide of what investors are looking for, which isn’t all that surprising given the financial meltdown in the past year. (How many millions of people have been affected by the financial market collapse and wondered, where, besides our mattresses, should we be putting some of our hard earned dollars?) During these tumultuous times, it appears that more and more investors are looking for investments that will not only provide a fair return, but do the right thing for people and the planet.
Recently, the UK based Financial Times and US based Business Week reported that green and ethical investments are outperforming industry averages and are no longer seen as a niche sector with lower than average returns.
Another factor that is helping to change the tide towards more green investing is the growing attention on global sustainability issues. The pending UN Copenhagen Climate Change summit is advancing the sustainability message on the political agenda, and hopefully the outcomes (not to mention the media attention) from it will not only lead to changes in public policy, but greater public awareness about the importance of global ethical issues. This is great news for anyone in the ethical or green sector; with greater mainstream exposure about the importance of a globally sustainable economy, organizations that are focused on these areas will attract and find greater financial support, allowing them to continue advancing their mission and green initiatives.
So why am I going on about green investing and what does it have to do with Lunapads? When Madeleine and I met ten years ago, we knew we needed to find investors who would not only provide us with financing, but also be aligned with our mission. Renewal Partners, a private social investment company founded by Joel Solomon and Carol Newell, have been patient and supportive investors of Lunapads who not only believe strongly in not only our mission, but in other successful progressive businesses across North America.
Leveraging off their success, Renewal is expanding its scope to build the Renewal2 Investment Fund, which will invest in emerging entrepreneurs and businesses at the forefront of social and environmental innovation. The fund will provide an opportunity for investors across North America who are re-imagining the economy, culture and public policy to participate in the development of a Social Economy.
Renewal2 is inviting interested investors to participate in a conference call on Tuesday November 24th to learn about social venture investing and their new fund. The fund is open to ‘qualified’ investors across Canada, the US and internationally. If you are curious, or know someone who might be a good candidate for moving their investment dollars to a social venture fund that will support underfunded sectors that are critical to a sustainable economy, I encourage you to read more information here.
Even if you don’t have investment dollars, there are many ways in which we can use our money to creatively change the world and improve it. I’m sure many of you regularly use your purchasing power to support progressive, green or ethical businesses. You’ve also probably heard a lot about the buy local and slow food movements.
At the Green Business Conference in San Francisco earlier this month, I heard author, venture capitalist and entrepreneur Woody Tasch reflect both philosophically and pragmatically about these very subjects. In his book Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money; investing as if food, farms and fertility mattered Tasch explains why “we must bring money back down to earth” and look at what is going on in the soil of the economy. Money moves too quickly today and is becoming disconnected from the people and places it came from.
I encourage anyone who has an interest in money, investing and improving our planet to look further into the Slow Money movement, read the book, and sign the Slow Money Principles petition. While many of us may not have the means to invest meaningful sums into green and ethical funds or philanthropic entities, we can all take the time to think more consciously about how we are spending our money and think about the food we are eating and where it is coming from.