Woman-Identified, Black / African American, Indigenous / Native
Race & Equity, Economic Power
Marketing and Communications, Product / Service Design, Information Technology, Operations and Administration, Business Models and Financials
In 2012, I wanted to see if what I thought I knew about impact investing was accurate, so I attended a pre-conference event that was impact investing 101. In that room of about 50 people, five were female-presenting and 2 were people of color. It was a room full of individual and institutional investors, people representing investment committees, family offices, and philanthropic organizations. As people began introducing themselves, they shared their name, organization and their assets under management - which turned out to be Billions with a B.
I learned three things at that meeting that changed my life: First, philanthropic organizations invest 95% of their portfolio, and the interest/profit made on those investments is what pays for the grants. Next, the IRS requires philanthropy to give out a minimum of 5% of their corpus. They can give more but don’t, and they require their investments to make market-rate returns of 8-12%. Finally, in terms of the impact of their investments, it began clear to me - having worked in community development - that in the best-case scenario their impact was a low bar and felt more like a checkbox. In the worst-case scenario, the impact was actually causing unintended harm and worked against their own philanthropic priorities and in some cases deepened systemic racism.
I had my lightning rod moment and discovered my calling. In order to change the lived experience of Black and Brown people, three things must happen:
We need to stop believing that there isn’t enough money. If Theranos can get $900M for a product that didn’t work, there’s enough money.
We need to fundamentally shift the way money moves. All the protests in the world will do very little until we change the way money moves.
And, there needs to be a fundamental shift in how finance interacts with People of Color and vice-versa.
I went home from that trip on fire! I knew that the rest of my life’s work would be to "Move the Money," and four years later, I launched Social Impact Now, a certified b-corp impact investing and equitable economic development consulting firm. We help people align their money with their values with a bias towards action and investing in communities of color. We help people Do.Different.Better.