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Innovations in Impact Investing: Women's Leadership Series

With the generous support of Mission Throttle, and in partnership with Mission Investor Exchange, The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI) has conducted research on women’s participation and leadership in impact investing. As part of this scan, TPI interviewed leading practitioner Kristin Hull of Nia Community Investments and Nia Global Solutions on her views of women in the field of Impact Investing. Below is the final segment of our interview with Kristin (Part 1 is available here, and Part 2 here).

TPI: What organizations are doing some of the most interesting work to engage women in impact investing? What are they doing?

KH: Inspiring and assisting women to become more engaged in their investment decisions is happening in small and big ways across our financial industry. As women grow more interested and more confident in investing, we stand to see significant changes in our capital markets and in our society overall. I personally am excited about the actions I see taking place as women make connections between their individual investments and the impacts those companies have in the world.

Large financial firms understand and are (literally) looking to capitalize on the enormous wealth transfer that is currently taking place as women and millennials are coming into significant wealth. As women become more in charge of their finances--due to both earned income and inheritances--we are seeing financial firms begin to shift, gradually catering more to women. With this change comes new ways of working with clients, as well as new financial products being developed that will be more meaningful to women.

Other smaller firms and organizations are taking significant efforts to include and empower women investors as well. Veris Wealth Partners, for example, has done a tremendous amount to engage women investors, including the publication of an excellent gender lens white paper. Carrie VanWinkle and Malaika Maphalala of Natural Investments have recently launched their project Women Invested, a series of interviews with women in finance. Joy Anderson of Criterion Ventures has developed a gender lens investing “tool kit” and has been offering workshops across the country specifically to engage women in investing.

TPI: What new ideas/strategies/models do you think are most intriguing?

KH: We are fortunate to be entering a time of great innovation within the financial industry with many new impact investing offerings sprouting up. Amy Cortese and Arno Hesse are launching, a website that aggregates local crowdsourced investing opportunities into one easy-to-access platform. With investment options as low as $100, Investibule is breaking down barriers to entry and making local and values-based investing easier than ever.

RSF Social Finance has been working to transform the way the world works with money for over three decades. They are currently launching their Women’s Capital Collaborative, an integrated capital approach (using both philanthropic as well as investment dollars) that will increase access to capital for chronically underfunded female entrepreneurs.

My own offering of publicly traded companies, Nia Global Solutions, has been of particular interest to women. A global portfolio of best in class businesses focused on six solutions themes and including only companies that espouse women in leadership, represents a new way to bring impact investing to the public markets. Of particular interest to investors have been both the active stance of engagement our team has with our companies and the quarterly impact reports educating both clients and their advisors on ways in which portfolio companies are making an impact in our world. Each of these innovative products incorporating different aspects of gender lens investing serves to bring meaning and transparency all while engaging women in their investment decisions.

TPI: What are the major gaps and needs?

KH: Despite the recent and upcoming innovations, we are needing more transparency into the investment process as well as education about the financial industry. We are needing everything from learning circles, to basic curriculum, to peer examples, sample portfolios, easy entry points, to savvy and welcoming advisors. Fortunately, women investing circles are sprouting up across the country. Groups like Women Moving Millions are taking this on by educating members via their Impact Investing Circle, launching in January. Women Donors Network is similarly looking to expand the value based investing experiences, sharings and teachings for their members. And at the end of the day, we really need financial advisors to step up and help bridge these gaps.

TPI: What will accelerate the participation and leadership of women in impact investing?

KH: Sample portfolios and examples of other women investors will do a lot in providing a roadmap for women to both get involved and to step into leadership. Offering financial products and investment opportunities that are both transparent, and focus on women is an excellent way to engage women investors as well as to create necessary change in the leadership of businesses. When women have the opportunity to learn, to experiment, to ask questions and try out potential products and investments, we will be moving in the right direction.

At both Nia Global Solutions and at Nia Community Investments we are dedicating the next two months to building out our websites (stay tuned!) with an aim to be both user-friendly and educational.

At Nia Community, we offer our investments as a sample portfolio which can be helpful in seeing a range of potential investments, examples of ways to engage in impact investing.

TPI: Would you support a campaign to promote women’s engagement in impact investing? What might that look like?

KH: I absolutely support such a campaign and want to help build this movement in all the ways I can. Women are going to be the natural leaders of this movement. To inspire their leadership, I envision a conference on Women and Money, maybe in four or five different places across the country. I’d like to create a space for women to convene, to learn, to hear about and engage in ways they can use their financial resources as tools for social change, to put their investment dollars to work with people and at companies that they want to see thrive; a space where women can learn the entry points on everything from local banking, to loans, private equity and public equity strategies. Stay tuned as we create programming for this event in 2018!

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