While in San Francisco a few years ago, I was introduced to a fellow named Paul Herman. Paul is the author of a book about impact investing called The HIP Investor: Make Bigger Profits by Building a Better World.
HIP stands for “Human Impact + Profit”.
This slogan and this guy intrigued me right from the start. We got into a brief, very passionate discussion right then and there about what impact investing was. Basically, it’s about choosing your investments based on future risk, return potential, and the net impact on society. It’s the last criteria that makes this kind of investing socially sustainable. Paul suggested that I look at what I was already invested in and, if I could, switch over from any “dirty” and socially unsustainable companies to clean and socially sustainable ones.
When I got back to Vancouver, I reviewed my investment fund portfolio based on the HIP criteria. Like many people, I was invested in mostly dirty industries and banks. This irked me. Here I was, the “environmental” guy, directly supporting dirty companies and I hadn’t even realized it. So I called my broker and started moving my investments over to cleaner tech, organics, and renewable energy.
A while later, another friend encouraged me to meet Joel Solomon, who, like Paul Herman, is involved with a clean, socially responsible investment fund called Renewal Funds. Renewal, Canada's largest mission venture capital firm with $98M assets under management, only invests in green tech, organics, and socially responsible corporations certified as B Corps. Joel has also written a book about “clean investing” called The Clean Money Revolution: Reinventing Power, Purpose, and Capitalism.
After hanging out with both Joel and Paul, I started to seriously consider where I could invest more of my portfolio. I wanted to support things that made a difference and that generated a triple bottom line return (financial, social, and environmental). I wanted to keep moving away from dirty industries and into more sustainable ones. And so I decided to become involved in Joel’s Renewal funds.
I highly recommend both of the books these men have written as “good reads”, especially to anyone who tells me they want to be “conscious” about their investments. Not only can we make a profit these days: we can also make a difference by choosing our investments more wisely.