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Regenerative Finance leader Kate Poole’s SOCAP Takeaways:
- Impact Investing is a huge spectrum, and Regenerative Finance’s approach is adding a new possibility–of sharing power, co-developing terms of investment, working in deep partnership, and, most uniquely, redistributing wealth.
- “Inclusion” is the word that investors and entrepreneurs are using to talk about diversity (see Ari’s blog on why “inclusion” isn’t enough). Explicitly naming “redistributing wealth to black communities” or “working with indigenous communities to restore control of land” is necessary to ground a commitment to racial justice. You cannot be held accountable if you don’t have explicit goals.
- The most transformative work in impact investing is being done by visionary black leaders like Jessica Norwood, Konda Mason, and Rodney Foxworth who are in deep partnership with black communities and racial justice movements.
- Leaders like Rha Goddess and BALLE’s Michelle Long pushed for connection and embodiment in order to shift the culture of SOCAP, and to challenge the way we’re replicating the old economy as we’re building the next economy (see our recap of COCAP, and especially Amaka Agbo’s keynote). At Regenerative Finance we’re trying to follow this leadership, and learn more about deep connection, embodied practices, and transformative honesty.
- There are creative tools for redistributing the wealth of investors, but without explicit conversations about race and colonization, impact investing will continue to build wealth for the wealthy. Radical redistribution of wealth is required to transform the economy, which means wealthy people need to make low and/or negative financial returns on their investments, and not market rate returns.
“Investors, like everybody else, can be organized. Ought to be organized!” Andrea Armeni, Transform Finance #SOCAP16
Part of the work of Regenerative Finance has been to position ourselves in contrast to mainstream impact investing. When we began organizing as a collective, over 3 years ago, we formed in opposition to mainstream “socially-responsible” investments. Different members felt:
- divesting wasn’t enough;
- reinvesting divested funds in renewable energy companies owned by rich white men wasn’t enough;
- there is no way to invest in the conventional sense and embody our political values of wealth redistribution;
- there was no way to be an anti-capitalist investor;
- there were no screened funds that managed to screen out the kind of exploitation we didn’t want a part in;
- the impact investing world was a greenwashed wasteland of neocolonialism.
“When investors look at their holdings they go through shock first. Detoxification process is the first step. We can work with each other until advisors catch up.” Charly Kleissner, TONIIC #SOCAP16
We wanted to explore and promote “regenerative finance,” a set of values we were developing in partnership with Gopal Dayaneni of Movement Generation and Sha Grogan-Brown of the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance / Climate Justice Alliance. We wanted to provide an opportunity for social justice activists who had dissociated from their investment portfolio to invest their money and their trust in communities most impacted by racial, climate and economic crises. We believe that not only should investors be moving money, they also need to trust and relinquish the decision-making power to those communities
I say this because we were mostly coming fresh into the impact investing landscape. I had been doing local investing work and research, but other collective members were coming from housing justice, climate justice, and racial justice movements. We trusted movements, but we didn’t trust finance. We built partnerships with the emerging Reinvest in Our Power Network, with the Working World, with Thousand Currents (formerly IDEX), and with the Southern Reparations Loan Fund.
People really build the Social Capitals conference (SOCAP) up, it was described to me as a zoo, as a frenzy, as the center of the universe, and as a place Regenerative Finance should both absolutely avoid and mandatorily show up for. When I was invited to speak at COCAP (a pre-SOCAP day-long gathering on radical redistribution of wealth through impact investing, see our post here), it felt both strategic and overwhelming to also attend SOCAP. I spent all three days cycling through sweet connection and total overwhelm. I struggled through the language of “inclusion” and “equity” to locate what investors and entrepreneurs actually believed.
I’m sharing cartoons and quotes from investors, organizers and entrepreneurs who inspired me. There was plenty said that challenged and angered me. Other SOCAP recaps that I enjoyed can be found here:
Hippies vs. Capitalists at SOCAP – Capitalists Win?
A New Funding Tool Aims to Fill the ‘Friends & Family’ Gap for African American Entrepreneurs
SOCAP Offical Blog
Who is in the room to make decisions about capital? @RDFoxworth & @stephendeberry ask you to reconsider #SOCAP16 pic.twitter.com/9741w5v4ct
— oscar perry abello (@oscarthinks) September 16, 2016
“Our role as people with access to capital is to bring people in. Equalize power and decision-making process.” Aaron Tanaka, Ujima Fund #SOCAP16
“There’s a difference between networking and collaboration, collaboration is values based, relationship based, bringing people together in holisitic ways. How can we create a culture of intimacy? Of vulnerability?” Rha Goddess, Move the Crowd #SOCAP16
I imagine my kids might live in a time when fresh water & empathy are the most valuable commodities @bamuthi #SOCAP16 pic.twitter.com/qoDYTsvXKY
— Regenerative Finance (@RegenFinance) September 16, 2016
#SOCAP16 so impressed by how @MorganSimon1 brought social justice principles into #socap #superhero #heardatSOCAP pic.twitter.com/Wsu6S0cJpE
— Regenerative Finance (@RegenFinance) September 14, 2016
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