The Mission Markets Blog

Invest for Impact

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IMG-20130611-00199Like many players in the New York impact investing space, Mission Markets spends a lot of time flying from JFK to SFO for major events. The SOCAP event series, the de-facto gold standard for such events since its launch way back in the late noughties, is the best – but far from only – example of social capital happenings happening on the “other” coast.

The party line is that the success of these events is what matters, which makes whining about their locale seem petty… and while I toe the party line, as someone who not just works in New York but was born here, it irks me that NYC isn’t a bigger hub (pun intended) for the wheels that keep social capital spinning.

Which is why I’m so glad that I – along with MM colleague Rebecca Orlowitz – attended Able Made’s  AMP IT UP! event at the Red Rooster in Harlem, NYC on Tuesday, June 11: it restored my faith in NYC as a bona fide center of the social capital solar system.

For starters, the attendees – from the organizers to the featured entrepreneurs to the venue staff – were all great examples of what success looks like when focusing on both social and financial bottom lines.

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SOCAP12 Reconnects Impact Investing Leaders and Highlights New Social Entrepreneurs in SF

Last week our very own Jeff Tuller and Eleanor Horowitz traveled to the West Coast and joined over 1600 attendees for SOCAP12 at San Francisco’s Fort Mason. This was the fifth annual weeklong conference hosted by Social Capital Markets (and Jeff’s fifth time in attendance) and this year’s theme was Making Meaning Matter.

For those who have yet to experience it, SOCAP is a conference dedicated to increasing the flow of capital to social good and convenes social entrepreneurs, impact investors, intermediaries, students, government officials and more.

“We are here because we are about investing in a new way that supports businesses doing business in a new way; a way that creates positive good, measurable good, and impact, while it makes a profit,” wrote convener Kevin Jones.

At SOCAP, we caught up with friends and business partners and were energized to meet so many entrepreneurs new to SOCAP12 like Julia Sevilla, the founder of Kape Maria, a coffee company supporting local farmers and communities in the Philippines, Debbie Sterling, the founder of GoldieBlox, a toy company that sets out to inspire girls to become engineers, and Tonee Ndungu from Kenya who founded Kytabu, a textbook subscription app for tablets providing access to low-cost schoolbooks for low and middle income families.

A few of our favorite highlights:

Majora Carter speaking at Wednesday’s opening plenary at SOCAP12

  • Mission Markets was an active part of the conversation on Jed Emerson’s panel on impact investing platforms. What really defines a platform anyways?
  • Jeff Raikes, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, announced the launch of the Markets for Good initiative in partnership with LiquidNet, which will be tasked with improving data collection for impact investing. It is great to see some heavy hitters reinvigorating the conversation around impact measurement.
  • Majora Carter of Sustainable South Bronx spoke at Wednesday’s morning plenary about the importance of building and investing in sustainable local communities
  • Jenny Kassan of Cutting Edge Capital and Amy Pearl of Change XChange led a panel on Direct Public Offerings, something Mission Markets will be partnering with Jenny and Amy to offer. At last year’s SOCAP, the JOBS act and crowdfunding were all the buzz, but sometimes people forget that DPOs also enable the democratization of impact investing
  • Impact Assets launched the IA50, a resource of 50 investment opportunities that value both financial and environmental returns and includes Iroquois Valley Farms and Brazil’s first impact investing fund Vox Capital
  • And of course we loved the view…

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Guest Post: Slow Money NYC

Mission Markets + Slow Money NYC = Entrepreneur Showcase and Resource Exchange, this Saturday, May 14th in Brooklyn, NY.

A former boss of mine, whenever he heard a good idea, would look at his staff and say, “Let’s dream that into existence.”  He was directing a team of artists, and his words were our marching orders to transform our wildest thoughts into tangible work.

I was reminded of this when I read the book Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money by Woody Tasch.  For a few years now, our country has been wading through tough economic times.  Yet, to give an example, we continue to search for signs of recovery in a higher GDP.  Considering that the GDP measures all economic activity — everything from car accidents to mountain-top removal included — it hardly seems a measure of improvement.  It’s time for kindred thinkers like those behind Mission Markets and the Slow Money movement to dream something new into existence.

With these lofty goals, I’m happy to announce tangible work right now:  This Saturday, May 14th, Slow Money NYC is proud to partner with Mission Markets for the first-ever Entrepreneur Showcase and Resource Exchange in Brooklyn, NY.  The event will be at The Commons, 388 Atlantic Avenue, from 1-6 pm.

Slow Money NYC is a network of food activists, investors and entrepreneurs.  We nurture a range of conversations in order to actively develop funding and investment channels for local and sustainable food enterprises.  Our work is based on the principles of collaborative knowledge sharing, mutually reinforcing relationships, community participation, fairness, diversity and non-violence.

Like Mission Markets, we want to see investment directed towards companies that restore our environment.  We believe that, in turn, will restore the economy.

On Saturday, May 14th the doors are open to all.  In addition to the presentations from the ten Slow Money NYC entrepreneur finalists, we’ll have a Resource Exchange with numerous exhibitors who offer a range of services for sustainable food and farming entrepreneurs.  And we’re delighted to host Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer as the Opening Speaker.

Why this and why now?  On page 116 of Slow Money, Tasch gives us the status quo:  “I would argue that an investor whose financial activity is predicated on extraction — on the linear take-make-waste methodologies of a world that had never seen the picture of the earth rising over the moon — is not really an investor at all.  He is not truly investing himself in that to which he is applying his capital.  Quite the opposite.  He is keeping himself completely out of it, denying any personal connection to or responsibility for that to which his capital is lending its energy.”

Later in the book, within pages 132-136, he writes, “…financial markets are man-made.  And we can remake them…We need to create a new market.  A new kind of market.  A market that will turn the market into a market or that market.”

Join Mission Markets and Slow Money NYC as we bring into existence new, sustainable food and farming markets for New York City this Saturday, May 14th.


Nicole Reed
Steering Committee
Slow Money NYC


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Mission Markets On The Road

Over the past few months, the Mission Markets (MM) team has been criss-crossing the US, attending over 15 conferences and events, spreading the news about the MM exchange platforms.

We’ve shown demos of our platform to hundreds of interested viewers, both from these events and from meetings and calls at MM headquarters here in NYC. Feedback has been extremely positive from the issuer and investor sides, as well as from intermediaries and others on our growing list of partners.

Here’s a brief recap of where we’ve been:

    • National Ecosystem Markets conference (NC) Scaling markets that protect and restore ecosystems, through business, new transactions, voluntary markets – presented by American Forest Foundation & World Resources Institute