“There’s enough money in the world. We don’t need more money. What we need more of is positive impact,” said Kristi Fairholm Mader, Managing Director of Thrive Impact Fund, at Connect Money Impact 2023 in Kelowna during a session on Emerging Patterns in Impact Investing.
Kristi Fairholm Mader was joined by Jill Bester, Partner and Client Relationship Manager at Genus Capital Management, and Mari Mathews, Director of Business Development at Spring, to speak to a packed room of impact investors and others eager for impact investing insights.
Impact-Driven Investment Approaches
All three panelists discussed their investing approaches and the different opportunities funds are pursuing.
Genus manages nearly $2 billion and uses three different systems to evaluate ESG. Significantly, it has added an Indigenous screen to its portfolios, expelling companies from its fund that are mired in controversy when it comes to Indigenous relationships or those that display a poor environmental track record.
Spring is passionate about supporting impact entrepreneurs and has plans to expand its fund from $2 million in impact capital to $20 million. Its Spring Impact Investor Challenge unites impact investors and entrepreneurs in a cohort. Currently, it has 250 aligned impact investors.
Thrive is an impact-first, regenerative fund with a goal to be $5 million. It notes emerging trends toward making local impact and has found that people want to invest in local communities to make a difference with their wealth. Thrive Impact Fund has been recognized as a Transformative 25 Fund for its contributions to reimagining financing that works for people and the planet.
By describing their approaches and focus areas, the panelists offered entrepreneurs an inside look into the moving parts of how investments are contemplated, especially when factoring in positive impact.
Who’s Involved in the Impact Investing Movement
Positive impact is attracting a lot of people to the impact investing table, many of whom have a powerful willingness to take action. Learning just how big the potential for impact investing is really surprised us, and helped us understand the different players in the impact investing movement – and how they’re using capital to heal our broken systems.
Right now, a massive transfer of wealth is happening, and the generation who is inheriting is interested in the Seventh Generation approach. This approach is Indigenous and future-minded; it aims to make decisions today that will positively impact the world seven generations from now.
This passion for impact is also vibrantly at work in companies like Genus, with its fierce advocacy for systems change. Through Genus, many exceptionally wealthy people are getting on board with impact investing, shattering our perceptions.
Women are also increasingly involved in this space and deeply interested in taking risks with investments. With such courage and enthusiasm, “smart women can finish rich,” as Jill Bester said, while contributing to systems change through impact investing.
Of course, there are still some barriers that need to be broken for people to participate in companies that are making an impact. Spring Activator is taking a leap toward this by working to bring non-accredited investors to the table, so impact-type investments get the funding they need to make lasting positive change.
The Risk and Return on Impact Investments
Perhaps there is one lingering question that reveals why some are hesitant to take the plunge and dive into impact investing. The panelists addressed this question, which asks: does financial return have to be sacrificed for social return?
While there may be a common anxiety behind this question, it does not reflect reality; the truth is you don’t have to sacrifice responsible investments to chase returns. Case in point: Genus’s Global Impact Bond Fund has beat the market by 1% for the last several years. And this track record has been holding strong.
Thrive also demonstrates a willingness to pursue social good without sacrificing profits, by setting aside traditional risk methods to consider businesses as a whole and offer customized investments, every single time.
Together, Kristi, Jill, and Mari painted a portrait bright with hope. They inspired a lot of confidence when it comes to activating money for grassroots players and helped articulate the critical importance of building bridges between entrepreneurs and investors.
Best of all, they’re proving that profit does not have to be sacrificed to pursue profit. It isn’t just hope, it’s reality.
This is the fourth in a series of blog posts about Connect Money Impact 2023 created for Purppl by Sparx Publishing Group, a purpose-driven full-stack marketing agency on a mission to make the world better.