You Get the Future You Invest In:
Stuck in Neutral?

Julianne Zimmerman

In recent weeks I’ve conversed with several people who have variously described their feelings as:

Horrified by current events and put off by partisan / polarized / isolationist narratives.

Baffled by the news cycle and trying hard not to adopt an us versus them mentality.

Confused and disoriented by market and global dynamics, and waiting for things to become more comprehensible.

Paralyzed.  Stymied.  Disheartened.

Stuck in neutral.

Maybe you have been feeling one or more of these ways as well.  I can empathize.  No one can reliably predict what will happen in the next 24 hours, let alone six months or five years.  It’s confoundingly challenging to make reasonable assumptions about the future.

Particularly for conventional investors, it’s tempting to sit out the current tempest and scan the horizon for more favorable conditions.

For impact investors, however, this is precisely the moment to take heart and seize unprecedented opportunities to exercise the tools of finance to accomplish meaningful good.

For concessionary investors, there is greater urgency than ever before, as government bodies are stepping back from longstanding civic and social commitments and the World Economic Forum has reported that growing financial inequity is the number one threat to global economic security.  And there is already encouraging news from the field.

For nonconcessionary investors, there is greater opportunity than ever before, as increasing numbers of both public and private companies are finding competitive advantage from delivering social, environmental, or sustainability benefits to their stakeholders.  While the markets stumble at effectively pricing either positive or negative “externalities”, impact investors can employ those market inefficiencies to amplify both financial and impact advantage.

Am I Gonna Be A Witness?

Fortunately — or unfortunately — there are openings everywhere for impact investors to take action.  In Ed’s most recent Ed Talk, he exhorted all of us to find our courage to act.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu put the call to action this way:

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.

Focus on the mouse.

To be an effective impact investor, you don’t have to reorient your entire portfolio or take on a heroic campaign.  Just ease out of neutral.  Find an investment opportunity that fits with your principles and your preferred approach — public or private markets, funds or direct investments, equities or debt, etc. — and give it a try.  Start slowly.  You might even want to consider investing philanthropic capital through a donor advised fund or other charitable vehicles before committing investment capital. The key is to focus on the impact you want to participate in creating;  then choose an investment approach that is suited to that goal and the means at your disposal.*

Band together. 

Impact investing can be baffling and overwhelming.  You don’t have to do it alone.  There is an increasingly vibrant community of impact investors to join.  As a small sample, you might consider exploring

There are many more, and we continue to meet new allies all the time.  Whatever impact you aspire to catalyze or reinforce, there are people and organizations who can help you achieve those outcomes.  And just as Rumi said, “what you seek is seeking you.”

In other words, ease out the clutch and engage!

At Reinventure, we’re reinventing investing.  By capitalizing on the potential of overlooked and undervalued founders, the Reinventure investment thesis is designed to deliver both intentional social impact and competitive financial returns, without compromise to either.**  We’re proud to be in extraordinary company with others who are also taking action to invest for good.

Please join us.

*Reinventure Capital is not an investment advisor, and this communication not intended to constitute financial advice.

**While there’s no such thing as a guarantee in investing and no one can reliably predict the future, Ed’s record at UNC Ventures provides direct evidence that it is indeed possible to consistently invest for both financial returns and social value creation.  To learn more, please contact us.

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