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25 funds transforming finance for people and planet

by Jen Astone, Integrated Capital Investing, jen@iciaptos.com

Philanthropy is missing a strategic opportunity for transformative finance. As foundations and mission-aligned investors swiftly shift their investments into ESG screened funds and direct investments in values-aligned companies and entrepreneurs, they overlook many visionary funds and fund managers who are forging the future that we need. These funds are myth-busters and courageous innovations. More than rethinking our financial system, they are creating viable alternatives to investing in people and planet for generations to come. This list of 25 funds – The Transformative 25 ­– is an invitation to push past philanthropy’s comfort zone and consider the question:

What funds are transforming finance for people and planet?

I searched but could not find such a list that prioritized how investment and finance is offered, not just its outcome or impact.[1] This list emphasizes funds making finance work for people and the planet by people trained both inside and outside of finance. I offer this as inspiration and reference, a library for learning. We need a different conversation around investment in philanthropy, one that is motivated by our unique position as values-based institutions that can ask hard questions about our financial system. As someone who works with foundations to coach, educate, and catalyze their learning around integrated capital strategies, I know that foundations and investors don’t know how or where to start in identifying transformative fund opportunities that are diversified, have quality management, and a groundbreaking thesis. These catalytic opportunities can only attract institutional capital if philanthropy makes the first move. It is high time to go beyond standard impact investing language and contribute to a just transition. It’s important to understand why a fund would request a loan guarantee, a grant or an investment with a 0-2% return. This sector agnostic list helps to show how these innovative fund managers are creating opportunities for businesses and communities with their holistic approach to finance and other services.

Criteria for the Transformative 25

The fund must meet at least three of the following four criteria:
    • Use integrated capital to reach those unable to access finance
    • Engage with creative finance structures for shared prosperity
    • Focus on social, relational, and ecological returns as mission centric
    • Reshape ownership and governance for shared prosperity

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