Tales from Behind the Looking Glass

I have a small sense of what Alice felt when she passed through the looking glass, and I have to tell you it is tons of fun. I had been peeking through for far too long, knowing that there was a different world where I might find more meaning, but I was afraid to cross through.

For many years I worked in the traditional investment business where a company’s profitability came first and social good or mission came later, if at all. Now I am with Renewal Partners where we turn traditional investing upside down –we look for social mission first. We care about profitability and growth prospects but we only look deeper at a business when there is a solid social mission.

Knowledge that the planet is in real trouble has entered mainstream society and social investing (choosing companies that have good environmental, social and governance practices) is on the right side of an important and very large trend. As consumers learn more about the impact of their purchase choices on climate change and human rights the types of businesses we support will benefit. That being said capital for these businesses is greatly needed; I have heard that approximately 96% of all venture (early stage private) funding goes to tech, bio-tech and clean tech. That is why I joined Renewal Partners and why we are launching Renewal2, our social venture fund, where investors can participate in the development of business at the forefront of social and environmental innovation.

There are many different options for people who want their investments to reflect their values. Venture funds are not for everyone; they are structured as limited partnerships and investors are typically required to invest a minimum of $500,000 to $1 million. If you don’t have that level of capital to commit there are many excellent mutual fund options. One of Renewal Partner’s early investments was in Jantzi Research, Canada’s first social and environmental stock screening company. We were the first, and almost 12 years later, remain the only outside investor. Barclay’s has recently created an index fund that invests in the companies in the Jantzi Social Index called the iShares CDN Jantzi Social Index (symbol: XEN-T). To learn more about socially screened mutual funds check out the fund summary compiled by the Social Investment Organization.

I invite you to pass though the looking glass and join us on this exciting journey.