The ChangeXchange NW Web site was previewed at our September Re:Forum, where we described the Northwest Network and the work underway to begin building the infrastructure for invigorating innovation and community. Mike Van Patten, Founder and CEO of Mission Markets was there from New York to share his view of the trends of the capital markets. While there, both Mike and I were interviewed by Oakley Brooks, a writer for Ecotrust’s blog, to talk about our intentions for ChangeXchange NW. The article is titled, “Local investing. An app for that.”
The story provides a good overview of the way the site will work, from the crowdfunding sections to the private and public equity offerings that will also be available on the site. It also begins to touch on Springboard’s community engagement process that is the secret sauce of the ChangeXchange NW Network.
Here’s how the conversation usually goes… I describe the exciting financial functionality of the ChangeXchange NW site, and soon after the words local investing get uttered. This is when people often say something like, “Yes, but average folks don’t know that they are investors” or, ” That’s great, but how will small companies know how to get ready to do an offering?” Finally, they end up saying something like, “It seems like a lot of education will be needed.” EXACTLY.
I couldn’t agree more.
Our objective is to use our educational expertise to be local “translators” of new economic practices, helping citizens in every community in the Northwest engage to create value. We have stopped focusing on the technology as the answer, and shifted to acting on the fact that human infrastructure is the answer and technology is a tool.
Want more information? Check it out!
A new unconference lands in Portland to talk up social impact, startup, capital raising, new funds, and many other related subjects under the banner of social impact. The event will be held at Olympic Mills Commerce Center located at the corner of SE Washington and SE 2nd. It looks to be a mashup of the ideas swirling around the emerging space of social and environmental change and how to grow those efforts. There will be skills workshops, office hours, and un-presentations with lots of hands-on engagement with participants. And, it looks like we won’t just be talking to ourselves, colleagues are coming from outside the city to help think about what social impact really means in a number of disciplines.
What does it really mean?
A social entrepreneur is someone who intentionally designs and launches an enterprise of some kind designed to address a social/environmental/educational problem in the world. Their bottom line objective is social impact–identified, measured, marketed, maintained. It is not tangential to the work. And so, they create a social enterprise. What is a social entreprenuer? I like to riff off of Sally Osberg’s defintion of the Skoll Foundation who described social entrepreneurs and their quest for social impact as “seeing problems as opportunities for disrupting an unjust equilibrium and replacing it with a more just system.”
When a multi-national company puts 1% of its profits into social causes, is it suddenly a social venture? Is a company that treats its employees well, gives to charity, and whose employees help out a local soup kitchen a social venture?
So, is social impact random…accidental? While I’m sure that happens on occasion, a social enterprise is an intentionally designed business. Social impact is purposeful.
This field is emerging, and our collective future demands precision of intent and of language. I’m looking forward to talking more about this during the unconference, working with exisitng and emerging businesses, and entrepreneurs young and old alike, who want to do things differently… just what does that look like when you intend to have social impact? It’s the best conversation we can have!
Various Web defintions describe hacking as a “coordinated (hostile) attack.” Perhaps that’s the right approach here. Not the hostile part, but the coordinated attack part. I look forward to coordinating efforts with others with the same purpose–doing things differently to achieve better outcomes!
The Hacking Social Impact Unconference begins Monday night Nov 12th, 5:30 p.m. at Ecotrust’s roof, and continues throughout the day Tuesday, Nov 13th at Olympic Mills Commerce Center beginning at 8:30 a.m. Register here.
SoCap continues its tradtion of bringing the best ideas from around the world. Yesterday we heard from Gar Alperovitz who reminded us this is about democratizing the economy,power, and engagement. It was great.
If you have a saving account that is making 0.0something% interest
If you shop at the farmers market
If you sponsor your kid’s sports team
If you keep tabs on neighborhood news
If you seek out organic, local, and or sustainable products
Then you care about the local economy.
Know it or not, you are already an investor. So, you care about the local economy… isn’t it is time to connect your daily decisions to eat locally and buy locally to your investments?
If this sounds good but you have no idea where to start, we have the solution. If you’ve been reading up on impact investing but are interested in focusing locally, you’re in the right place. What if you are ready to invest in your neighborhood or local business and need a game plan? Got you, we hear you, we want to help.
Everyone should be coming to the September forum. Everyone. Your adult son who is just figuring out what to do with his IRA or 401k. Your aunt who gave you a sweet graduation present. Your book club members and badminton partners. Your neighbor. You.
Spread the word. We can change our relationship to our money, and grow the local economy ourselves. Choose the businesses we want next door. Benefit by local investments.
Pioneers in the field are joinging us September 13th: Calvert Foundation, Cutting Edge Capital, Mission Markets, Equal Exchange, and more. Springboard Innovation will also share information about a new effort underway that will make local investing easier. Join us.
Thursday, September 13 | 5:30 – 8:00 pm
No matter your level of knowledge on local impact investing, we have built a forum and panel program for everyone who is interested and ready to invest in a strong local economy.
43 SW Naito Parkway Portland OR (Mercy Corps’ Aceh Community Room)
$15 Pre-Registered | $20 at the door
Workshops on September 14th & 15th
411 SW 6th Portland OR (EXPLANE’s office)
WORKSHOP #1: the Direct Public Offering – Part II of the Series
The national community finance expert Jenny Kassan of Cutting Edge Capital and others will be moving our DPO cohort from June to the next level in a special session on Friday. Bring your SCOR form and your team.
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Workshop Fee: $149.00
WORKSHOP #2: Become a Smart Local Investor
We follow up the inspiration and possibilities from Thursday night’s panel with plans of action. We answer questions such as what are the legal parameters, how do I join a network of people doing similar things, where do I start in doing my due diligence et cetera. If you missed our first workshop in June, this is your chance to catch up.
9:00 am – 12pm
Workshop Fee: $25.00
WORKSHOP #3: Strategy Session for NW Ecosystem Builders
If you consult with entrepreneurs in your town, or are helping build local investing strategies, then this session is designed for you and your team. At our June Re:Forum we met ecosystem builders from six cities. Let’s continue the network for impact local investing. You will be the first to use the new local exchange. This workshop is designed for ecosystem builders who are transforming the way their towns and cities boost their local economies. Register here.
1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Workshop Fee: $25.00
For more information: call us at 503 452 6898, email Lin at email@example.com, check out this newsletter, or go to the event page.
“How are we going to begin rebuilding the broken economy and creating jobs? Where is the investment going to come from? One answer is taking shape in dozens of towns and neighborhoods across the country, as citizens from Brooklyn, NY to Port Townsend, WA are figuring out ways to invest in the local businesses that create jobs and help build strong local economies.” – Amy Cortese, author, “Locavesting”
Locavesting Comes to Portland
by Malaika Maphalala
As part of my work within my community of Portland, OR, I’ve been very engaged with a non-profit organization called Springboard Innovation that works to support social innovation. The group’s focus for 2012 has been “Jump-Starting Local Investing,” presented as a three-part community discussion and workshop series that kicked off here at Portland’s Natural Capital Center in June. The series aims to build the knowledge base among Portlanders so that both businesses and the community members who want to support them have the tools and skills they need to build a strong, successful local investment movement.
We began by bringing Amy Cortese to town, to inspire and share stories from her book, Locavesting: The Revolution in Local Investing. We also pulled together a fabulous panel of experts to share regional examples of successful local investment, offer sage advice from seasoned investors, and unveil new approaches and resources. A wonderful group of enthusiastic community members from across the enterprise and investor spectrum turned out for the two-day event. The session affirmed the value of including local investment as a part of a wise portfolio, since it can offer both added diversification and direct participation in strengthening our local economies. At this point, though, established and easily accessible opportunities are few, and most investors and small businesses don’t know the first thing about how to build pathways for legal, informed, and ultimately successful direct investment within their communities. In order to substantially expand this field, community members need to step up as advocates and activists for local investment and be willing to build bridges ourselves. And the more educated and savvy our approach, the better. What we don’t want are a string of disaster stories resulting from under-informed enthusiasm and failure to wisely evaluate risks involved in new, alternative forms of investing. A truly successful local investment movement will take community know-how, sharing of models and best practices, and working together to craft effective new tools.
A focus of the first session was the Direct Public Offering (DPO) as a tool for businesses to raise community-based capital. We heard the exciting story of the Quimper Mercantile from Marty Gay and Michelle Sandoval of Port Townsend, WA. When their town lost its family-owned mercantile, community members decided that rather than driving out of town for everyday supplies, they would start a community owned dry-goods store. To raise the capital, they launched a DPO through which community members could buy shares in the new store for just $100 per share. To date 711 community members have invested $490,000 and the store is up and running. Marty and Michelle are also members of Port Townsend’s Local Investment Opportunities Network (LION), a very successful model through which community members have invested over $1.5M into local business. Michelle described how the success of LION has spawned a local investing culture in her community that could be an inspiration to Portlanders.
The following day offered two intensive workshops – one for enterprises, the other for investors who were ready to dig in. Shaula Massena, an Impact Investor with several years of experience with direct investment, shared her insight on best practices for investors in terms of due diligence and evaluating risk. Her key tips were to make sure investors develop a real and direct relationship with the enterprises in which they invest, work collaboratively with other investors, and aim to support businesses or projects in appropriately timed phases and for the long term. This spirit of collaboration was echoed by those with experience on the enterprise side who acknowledged that chances of success increase greatly when businesses share knowledge. Twelve great Portland enterprises including Better World Club, Supportland, Hot Lips Pizza, Streetcar Bistro, and Green Anchors participated in a hands-on workshop about launching a DPO, and got to hear the nuts and bolts of the Quimper Mercantile DPO process from Michelle and Marty, with several walking away determined to develop their own offerings in this community.
Our next session, scheduled for Sept. 13th – 15th will focus on understanding the needs of social businesses at varying stages of development and financing tools geared to those needs. In coming months, we’ll continue to investigate new investment structures and plan coordinated efforts to create a financial ecosystem to support a strong local investing culture.
Malaika Maphalala is a Financial Advisor with Natural Investments, a national SEC registered Investment Advisory firm that has specialized in exclusively socially responsible and ethical investing for over 25 years. A lifelong advocate for social change, Malaika is driven by a passion for finding innovative approaches to bringing people and resources together to address social and environmental complexities.