'Fearless' Financiers Put Millions Into Hands of Entrepreneurs

SVN Impact Award recognizes those who are changing the business of finance

Wednesday July 11, 2012 -- Camille Jensen

All six of Social Venture Network’s newly announced hall-of-fame honorees took an unconventional approach to the business of finance, and in doing so made millions in capital accessible to underserved entrepreneurs and communities, while allowing individuals to make informed, values-driven decisions with their funds.

For their pioneering work, Wayne Silby, founder of Calvert Investments, Josh Mailman, founder of Serious Change LP, Amy Domini, founder of Domini Social Investments, Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank, and Joel Solomon & Carol Newell, co-founders of Renewal Partners are being recognized with an SVN Impact Award as Fearless Financiers.

Wayne SilbySilby co-founded the Calvert Social Investment Fund in 1982, one of the earliest mutual funds dedicated to socially responsible investments. It not only supported companies who were making social and environmental impacts, it monitored their work and through shareholder actions asked them to be even better companies. This led to Dell being the first computer company to institute a post-sales recycling program followed by others in the industry.

Calvert Social Investment Funds also set aside approximately one percent of its assets to invest in community needs at below market rates – the first investment company to do so. It was not only successful but spawned the Calvert Foundation, which now manages about $200 million in microfinance, fair trade, and other investment projects directed at issues of social justice.

Josh Mailman, who helped found SVN with Silby, has been leading Serious Change Investments for the past six years investing in social purpose companies ranging from Alter Eco, fair trade coop sourced food, to Baltix Design, tables and work areas made from agricultural waste. He also helped found Jalia Ventures, which has invested $3.5 million in U.S. and African-based companies owned by entrepreneurs of color.

AmyAmy Domini is called “the first lady of social investing” for creating a Standard & Poor’s 500 for the responsible investor as well as writing Ethical Investing in 1984. Her organization, Domini Social Investments, was recognized as a “Leader of Change” at the 2011 Global Conference for Social Change.

Muhammad Yunus founded the Grameen Bank in 1976, a financial institution created to lend money to poor people who lacked collateral and other conditions traditional banks required, while charging the smallest amount of interest possible to ensure its financial sustainability.

He won the Nobel Prize in 2006 for the bank’s successes in creating economic and social development in rural communities, lifting millions out of poverty.

Joel Solomon & Carol Newell launched Renewal Partners in 1994, with a 50-year strategy, and a 500-year vision, to influence and support a shift from a “maximum financial return at any planetary cost” economy to one based on the health of communities and in which ecosystems are integrated into economic activities that prioritize the long-term well-being of future generations.

The duo established Renewal2 in 2010, a $35-million social venture fund.

All six fearless financiers will be honored at SVN’s Hall of Fame Celebration in New York City Nov. 13.

— Watch for more SVN Hall of Fame profiles coming soon.

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