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Investor, Activist Seeks To ‘Transform Finance’ For Good
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Impact investment will be huge, but not necessarily good, says Transform Finance co-founder and Board Chair Morgan Simon, who is passionate about using money to create social justice. Investors controlling $550 million have signed on to her program, she says.
“Microfinance leading to huge debt cycles. Wind farms causing land grabs,” are signs of the problem, she says. “Impact investment is seen as a panacea to the challenges of aid and philanthropy, yet its promise is often unrealized, lacking engagement with and accountability to the people it is intended to serve, at times even harming its intended beneficiaries. Expected to eclipse aid by 10x with over $500B, the field needs principled course-correction to maximize its transformative potential for hundreds of millions of people.”
Transform Finance offers three programs designed to help impact investors course-correct:
Converting impact investors into social justice advocates: We help investors (family offices, foundations etc.) managing $556 million integrate the TF approach through our Investor Network launched at the White House in 2014. We co-develop tools to deepen impact and ensure accountability, stronger, more relevant metrics, and shared-benefit deal structures.
Working with accelerators worldwide to empower entrepreneurs to maximize community benefit: we “train the trainers” to ensure community accountability and shared ownership as common practice.
Helping social justice leaders leverage the power of finance: to keep investments accountable as they flow into their communities, and to generate their own revenue-building activity. Our initial training of 65 leaders in U.S. serving over 5 million individuals are being replicated from Mexico to Haiti as the only of this kind.
Simon has a clear vision to go along with her passion for impact investing done according by her standard. “Transform Finance creates a world where impact investment lives up to its transformative potential. Our multi-stakeholder work ensures that investors deploy capital in the real interest of communities, and that communities can take advantage of finance as a critical tool for social change.”
On Thursday, October 1, 2015 at 3:00 Eastern, Simon will join me for a live discussion about Transform Finance and its work. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
More about Transform Finance:
Transform Finance helps build a just world by making capital a force for real transformative change, bridging the spheres of finance and social justice. We help investors, communities, and entrepreneurs incorporate a social justice, community-centered approach to finance; train and support social change agents to harness finance as a highly effective tool for change; and leverage their collective power to realize the true promise of the $500 Billion impact investment ecosystem.
Morgan has spent the last decade engaged in impact investment, emphasizing community accountability and ownership. She currently co-leads Pi Investments, building a 100% impact portfolio with an emphasis on community empowerment and environmental sufficiency. In that capacity, she evaluates investments across asset classes, including early stage investments, private equity and debt, and real assets.
Morgan is a co-founder of Toniic, where she served as founding CEO from 2010-2013. She is on the investment committee for The Working World, a fund for worker-owned cooperatives in the US, Argentina and Nicaragua, and co-chairs the board of ROC UNITE, organizing 10,000 restaurant workers nationwide. She is a Founding Board Member of CARE Enterprises Inc, a venture fund supporting quality job creation globally in partnership with CARE International. To complete her full calendar of volunteer activities, she is also a founder and chair of the Transform Finance, bridging impact investment and social justice (www.transformfinance.org).
Previously, as the founding Executive Director of the Responsible Endowments Coalition, Morgan brought together 100 colleges and universities, helping to move their $200 billion in endowment dollars towards impact investment. Morgan has also worked with grassroots organizations and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Mexico, Honduras and Sierra Leone, and in domestic microfinance with Women’s Initiative for Self Employment. She received a B.A with High Honors in Economics and Political Science from Swarthmore College, and serves as an Adjunct Professor at Middlebury College’s graduate school program.
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