Daniel Robin of In3 Capital Partners facilitated an informal workshop at the Nov 2017 Climate Reckoning conference, at Harvard University.

The workshop was held on Sun., Nov 19th, entitled “Selfless or Selfish:  Fundraising for Purpose-Driven Organizations” and was very well received.

Participant Eva Leung, founder of small not-for-profit Terra Cura, quoted Daniel’s comment about what it takes to successfully raise impact capital:  “Fundraising is about establishing the Rhythm to get from why to what and the Timing to enter the market.”  See full post on LinkedIn.

Nov 2017 Conference Home | Speakers | Program | Video Proceedings (Facebook Live)

About the Workshop and Presentation at the Conference

Workshop:  the program was led by Mr. Robin, a facilitated discussion that revealed how impact-oriented and renewables-related venture and project finance recently caught strong tailwinds, pushing it into more mainstream circles in certain markets.

About the Conference Presentations

The conference program preceded this workshop, and featured 18 November, morning presentations by economist Fred Jennings and In3 founder Daniel Robin as follows:

Sat., 18 Nov., 10:00 – The Role of Economics in Ecosystemic Conservation
(Dollars to Dauntless: Transformational Economics)
Part 1, economist Fred Jennings
 discusses Nature’s absence from traditional economics, but its central role in ecological economics. Accepting a fully interdependent Earth system calls for a focus on rational limits. Here, cultural and social systems need to incorporate feedbacks to internalize the interdependent effects of private decisions, either (1) through conscience and ethics, or (2) through social system design. Several different types of social systems taking feedbacks into account will be addressed as means of creating more sustainable social incentive structures.

Fred Jennings is an economist, angler, and president/founder of the Center for Ecological Economic and Ethical Education.

Part 2, Daniel Robin:  Conservation, Restoration and Regeneration Economics

(Rebuilding what was lost, preserving and celebrating what’s left)

Daniel Robin offers illustrative examples of ecological economics in action through conservation, restoration and business model innovations that valorize ecosystem services.  These success stories hold the potential for accelerating the reversal of climate change:  1) Buildings that draw down far more carbon than they generate, 2) Intact forests that are essential to farmer livelihood, and 3) Wetland restoration that is both aesthetic and profitable.  Relying on social and financial incentive systems (though not a proxy for conscience and ethics) amplifies feedback loops and aligns market forces to help usher in new forms of conscious capitalism.

Daniel Robin, founder & managing partner of In3 Finance, and consultant in entrepreneurship, business planning, impact investing, and innovation for sustainability.

All conference presentations now available (scroll down)

Some anticipatory Q&A:

What’s the “secret” to tapping the $77.4 billion in available impact funding?  

Even with more than $1.5 billion invested so far in 2017 in cleantech, access to impact capital for the so-called “middle market” as well as early-stage financing (the highest risk/return ratio) remains a serious challenge.  The seeming paradox of “Selfish & Selfless” boils down to healthy self-interest, and somehow “being for yourself,” or being on your own side, in measured proportion to a focus on others (stakeholders, their benefits, their successful outcomes).

In modern-day capitalism, this can be tricky for those of us who are serving others and/or serving the world (social and environmental dimensions).  Capitalism got its start long before the limits that nature has imposed were at all top-of-mind.  Resources seemed to be without limit, and populations were small enough that the multiplier effect built an economy designed to produce goods and services and produce we have. Biologists realize that growth without limits leads to eventual collapse.  Development trumps linear growth.  (Did I just use the “T” word?)  Sustainable development has been discussed for decades.  Now capitalism itself is called into question, such as this recent NY Times article:  The Climate Crisis?  It’s Capitalism, Stupid.

Fortunately, blending profit with purpose is a natural for the world of Impact Investing.  In fact, there’s even a phrase that captures this notion of more conscious (aware, ethical) capitalism:  “blended value.”  Triple-bottom-lines of people/planet/profit or if not, then, well, pandamonium (no actual pandas were actually harmed), pente-cost (and I do mean cost), or at best status quo pluralism doctrines like “some of us will be responsible for the whole while the rest simultaneous ruin it.”  Game on!

If “impact investing” is so darn important, why have I not heard of it?

Impact Investing has greatly expanded recently, from at least 156 institutional investors in 2016 to more than 209 that responded to the 2017 (7th annual) survey, but still, nobody outside that community has heard of it.  Despite $77.4 billion in assets, there’s still close to zero mainstream recognition.  Had you previously heard of “impact investing”?  Few realize it is a burgeoning field.

There were almost 8,000 deals last year, for a total of $22 billion total invested capital (see 2-page PDF ).  Countless others are focused on “double-bottom-line” investment – making money while mitigating climate change (or at least slowing down the rate of environmental destruction), but without considering social impact aspects.

More than half of these institutional investors focus on the triple-bottom-line.  Many more smaller and boutique funds, family offices, and individual “impact angels” invest in this space worldwide but were not tracked by the Global Impact Investing Network (theGIIN.org).  Although there notable exceptions, these smaller investors often provide the seed money that impact-oriented institutional investors would later consider to be in their sweet spot.

GIIN Survey Results in a Sustainable Nutshell

Among the key findings of this Impact Investor survey you will find strong evidence, bordering on proof, that these investment practices deserve our full support:

  • Only roughly a year after the launch of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 26% of respondents track some or all of their impact investments with respect to the SDGs, and another third plan to in the near future.
  • Most respondents believe below-market-rate-seeking capital plays many important roles in the market, including directing capital to strategies that do not lend themselves to market-rate returns, achieving different kinds of impact [non-financial], and acting as a bridge between philanthropy and market-rate capital.
  • The bulk [are focused on meeting] basic needs, such as housing, energy, financial services, and food and agriculture.

Conference Focus on Food & Agriculture, Ecosystems and Biodiversity

Feeding the world remains a central concern as well as an opportunity.  How can we produce enough high-quality food, at low enough operating costs, without systematically decreasing soil biota, causing runoff or other pollution, by improving our chances for health and wellness?  Organic practices are a good start, but many practitioners believe going organic is simply not enough.

There remains communication challenges gaining a common understanding of even basic definitions when discussing practices like regenerative agriculture or other holistic management and related solutions with outsiders, even with organic farmers!  I constantly have to say “you know … [practices that produce] grass-fed beef?”  Then the light goes on and they say “Oh, sure, why didn’t you just say so?”  Then the big shocker — the dawning awareness that these strategies are absolutely necessary if we are going to reverse climate change.  Lots of recent evidence to confirm this, such as Paul Hawken’s recent work in this space.

This workshop will focus on identifying the continuum of funding across the risk/return spectrum.  This is key — ensuring that qualified ventures and projects can gain access to capital when it is needed. The paradox of banks willing to lend you money if you simply deposit the amount you wish to borrow as collateral … sounds absurd.  And it is.  That’s why we don’t work with commercial lenders.

Access to capital at all stages of development is a known challenge reported by more than half of the 209 surveyed Impact Investors.  Translation:  it is still quite difficult to raise money when there’s a high risk profile as perceived by the investor.  This is almost always the case with any small business or NGO, or in the “middle market” for impact projects, which is why a lot of family office investors with “money to burn” (capacity for much larger investments) focus on seed-stage grants or forgivable loans – much-needed solutions to serious gaps in the capital marketplace.

Bringing this down to the personal level, as leaders and entrepreneurs, looking through just the economic lens, this is about deciding what you deserve to be paid.  You “invest” in that (organize around it, make a strong proposal or offer to deliver value as perceived by the check-writer).  Why?  Because playing the state lottery tends to take too long.

More information about this workshop:  Contact Daniel Robin at +1.831-761-0700 or via drobin@in3group.net

Contact In3 Capital if you are interested in any of the following services:

  • Start your RAIN assessment ... be sure to save your results and share them with your team and with us!Funding assistance services.  Be sure to fill in your contact information and save your readiness report so we can discuss it with you.
  • Initial qualification via the RAIN Financeability Report — whether or not the venture is generating revenue or the project is ready for construction, if you are working in renewable energy or related industries you can use this worksheet (send it to apply@in3finance.com) to see how your project stacks up.
  • Attention from investors in our network, including those attending this November 2017 event.  Note that our network now consists of profiled capital in excess of $90 billion.

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