“Impact investments are investments made into companies, organizations and funds with the intention of general social and environmental impact, alongside a financial return.”
We are thrilled to share the first post in “Tell Me More”—a new series that aims to go deeper on fast-growing, future-thinking industries. Our inaugural piece celebrates women who work in impact investing—a field that allows investors to align their values with their investments.
We hope this collection of interviews will give you a deeper look into what it’s like to work in the field of impact investing. With suggestions for how to get started, day-to-day job insights and a peek ahead at future trends, we hope you walk away from this piece with a feel of what it’s really like to have her job.
Why impact investing?
Impact investing allows us to put our money to work on causes we care about. Areas within impact investing include clean tech, health, housing, education, sustainable agriculture, microfinance and sustainable technology. Rather than relying on philanthropy, when people or organizations are seeking investments, they can choose from varied areas of funding—like bonds that support cities we love; special funds to support gender equality, clean energy, or healthcare; as well as entrepreneurs who are aiming to solve some of the world’s toughest problems. The marketplace for impact investing has grown to $60 billion during 2016, and it’s just getting warmed up.
More than $41 trillion is estimated to be transferred from baby boomers to millennials over the next several decades, and as this article indicates, social impact is the No. 1 priority for these investors.
If you’re someone who strives to devote her work to a business that aligns with her values, then impact investing is a career worth considering. Katherine Brown, practice lead for investors industries at the World Economic Forum says you should go for it! “It’s a fantastic time to get involved, because momentum is building in the field and will continue as such,” she says. “You can be an impact pioneer working as a capital provider with a big institution or small fund, or as social enterprise, or even at an intermediary (like the Impact Investing World Forum). Just find the path that creates the ideal narrative for your mission and values, and if that takes you to my job, then I would be delighted!”
Margot Kane, vice president at the Calvert Foundation—which harnesses the power of investing to connect, cultivate and inspire those who want to shape the world for good—agrees. “Women are basically going to be running all of this, so don’t be shy about jumping in with both feet if this is what excites you,” she says.
What’s it like?
A relatively new industry, “It feels like we are building the plane as we fly it,” says Victoria Fram, managing director of Village Capital, an impact organization creating new investment vehicles and products that meet a wide range of investor objectives. “That span feels a bit frustrating at times. There is a lot of enthusiasm about the space and still not as much capital moving as that enthusiasm would suggest, but the exciting part of that to me is how we get to be pretty influential in the field’s creation right now.”
Who are big name supporters in the field?
- Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan: The couple pledged $44 billion toward future impact investments.
- The Ford Foundation: This nonprofit has pledged 10% of its endowment–$1 billion.
- Eva Longoria: She has partnered with Turner Impact Capital to invest in urban communities to address the shortage of workforce housing.
- Others include: Bono, Jeff Skoll, Laurene Powell Jobs, Richard Branson and Reid Hoffman.
I love my job, but still, I’m intrigued. How can I get involved?
Impact investments originate from individual investors, private foundations, family offices, fund managers, pension funds and other financial institutions. You can start—with an investment as small as $20. Some of our favorites include:
- The Calvert Foundation’s Community Investment Note, which was created to direct investment capital toward community initiatives related to affordable housing, environmental protection and other community efforts.
- The AARP Foundation’s new Age Strong program allows you to buy bonds to improve the lives of older, low-income individuals by focusing on access to affordable housing, job training and food.
- RSF Social Finance allows you to support approximately 120 social enterprises focused on food, agriculture, education, arts and the environment—with a minimum investment of $1,000.
- Socially responsible mutual funds are offered by major fund companies including: Ariel, Calvert, Domini, Neuberger Berman, Parnassus, Pax and TIAA-CREF. With a minimum investment of $3,000 you can join Vanguard’s Social Index Fund, which focuses on large-growth and mid-cap stocks, likes Google, J.P. Morgan Chase and Johnson & Johnson.
- More women are needed in finance. Suggest a role in the industry to a career searching mentee.
Where can I learn more?
We recommend checking out the websites for The Case Foundation, Sonen Capital, GIIN (Global Impact Investing Network) and Investors’ Circle.
Don’t miss four special episodes of I Want Her Job: The Podcast, which features amazing women working in impact investing. They include:
- Victoria Fram, Village Capital
- Margot Kane, The Calvert Foundation (Read extended commentary and advice on her .com interview.)
- Katherine Brown, The World Economic Forum (And check out her .com interview, too!)
- Deb Nelson, RSF Social Finance (Coming Tomorrow: Wednesday, May 17!)