COCAP 2016: Redistributing wealth through impact investing

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Community Capital
Radical Redistribution of wealth through Impact Investing
Impact Hub Oakland  9/12/16

Kate and Ari from Regenerative Finance went to COCAP yesterday – the theme was “radical wealth redistribution through impact investing,” which was so exciting, because that’s what Regenerative Finance is all about!  COCAP was filled with many brilliant people and ideas–and, wonderfully surprisingly, for an event focused on impact investing, organizers Konda Mason and Jenny Kassan gracefully grounded the whole day in discussions of race, equity, and reparations.

Nwamaka Agbo (Movement Strategy Center‘s Next Economy Fellow) had one of the morning’s first keynotes, speaking about her family’s experience as Nigerian immigrants, and how to create an economy free of racism we need to create space for healing and wholeness.

Reparations are about making a community whole again.

She cited Bryan Stevenson: “People are hurt. You want to make them whole.”

2 questions she asked the audience:
What practices can we embody to unearth racism?
How do you see habits from the old economy showing up in the new economic movement and what can we do to shift that?

nwamakaNwamaka Agbo talking about how the new economy is being disproportionately shaped by wealth white folks who have the leisure time, disposable income, and risk tolerance. And these folks are repackaging indigenous societal structure in an extractive way. #notesontheneweconomy #cocap2016

Michelle Long (BALLE) gave a warm playful talk on changing how we relate to each other in order to create real economic change. She talked about love as expansion of the self to include the other (an idea from Charles Eisenstein).

Transformation is not like moving from vanilla to vanilla bean, or even vanilla to chocolate.  It’s like moving from vanilla to music.

She also shared that in order to move into a love-centered economy BALLE is creating a movement of “connection circles.” You can sign-up here and we were moved and inspired by Michelle’s warmth and are going to try out a connection circle here at Regenerative Finance.


It was so special and sweet for Regenerative Finance to be a part of an all-woman panel, an incredibly powerful all-woman panel, on impact investing. Investors should check out all of these women and the organizations they’re a part of!

Kristen Hull, of Nia Community Foundation, talked about Marie Kondo (who wrote The Life‑Changing Magic of Tidying Up) and tidying up our money. She shared a quote “Money is like manure–when you spread it around it’s wonderful, when it’s piled up in one place it stinks.” Kristen shared her strategy of supporting projects through loan guarantees as a way to leverage wealth and privilege, essentially taking a risk and signing up to cover losses in order to help businesses access more capital. Regenerative Finance is excited to learn more about that!

Dana Lanza talked about how we assume that rich investors are finance experts, but she has seen time and time again, with billionaires even, that there’s no rich-person-DNA-magically-making-us-financially-savvy. That wealthy people, along with everybody, need to learn to speak the language of finance. She asked women especially to challenge the patriarchy by building the “financial knowledge to be able to contend with the current power structure.”


Nina Robinson spoke about the importance of helping entrepreneurs of color build wealth. She broadened the debate on reasonable rates of return and grounded it in the experience the entrepreneur. How can we support entrepreneurs as they succeed and build wealth for themselves, their employees, and their communities. She also spoke on the investing methodology of funding good jobs–how as businesses reach new benchmarks they incentivize certain business practices–like offering a lower interest rate on a loan if the business provides healthcare to their employees.

graphic-recordingMore from the graphic recording of #COCAP2016 by Jenny Seiler.

After lunch, there was a panel of entrepreneurs speaking about their experiences seeking funding, and different definitions of success. These women entrepreneurs shared that success might mean not opening a second restaurant, so the owners can travel to Mexico and visit family for the months a year.  It might mean having the agency to decide what to do with your life.  It could mean taking care of yourself or your family.  It doesn’t necessarily look like measures of success that are typically used to evaluate startups, like ability to scale, ROI, or an anticipated buy-out.

For investors that want to be in authentic relationship with the businesses they’re invested in, asking about an entrepreneurs’ definition of success is a great way to understand what kinds of investment terms are appropriate.


At Regenerative Finance we are asking more and more questions about land. Ari has led our collective in a decolonization study group, and we are continuing to ask questions about how to be in right relationship to land, as settlers and as investors. We were grateful to meet Brenda Salgado at COCAP, and learn more about her work connecting spirit, indigenous cultural reclamation, and movement strategy. At the end of the day Ari asked COCAP organizers to bring land into the conversation–you can read more about land as investment and regenerative finance in this blog post by Ari.


The closing panel, focusing on solutions that are actively radically redistributing wealth through impact investing. Rodney Foxworth of Invested Impact, talked about the importance of investing in African American entrepreneurs, especially at the friends and family earliest stages of growing a business. Jessica Norwood, of Emerging Changemakers network, spoke about the Runway Project, a new fund to support African American businesses in the early stage, and she pointed out how ridiculous it was to ask African American entrepreneurs who are coming from poor families to seek funding from their friends and family first. Rodney Foxworth pointed out that these early loans are given at a time and at terms that prove the investors care about success. He pointedly asked what it means when white wealthy investors only take a chance on their friends and family, asking “who do you think we should take a chance on?”

Much of the work we’re doing in Regenerative Finance is figuring out how to build organizational and personal relationships, so that we can invest in and trust in community-controlled loan funds. So that we can transfer power and capital to historically looted communities of color so that they can make decisions about how to allocate resources, so they can support emerging businesses of their friends, their family, their community.

Kate is headed to SOCAP tomorrow, so shoot her an email if you want to connect!

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