Our 32nd TBLI CONFERENCE was held in Stockholm at Nasdaq, last week and it was definitely one of our best events. I want to thank all the sponsors, speakers, moderators, and staff for making TBLI NORDIC such a joy and inspiration.
This was the first, but definitely not the last time, we held TBLI in Stockholm. I particularly want to thank Nasdaq for hosting us.
If you missed the event, and want to experience some of the visuals, presentations, interviews and blogs, please visit Nordic Knowledge Centre
Just wanted to say I am richer for knowing you. Friends are important to me, and you are a friend.
The conference was a huge success from my point of view and from everything I heard others say. Congratulations.
Rabble is an impact investing platform that connects people with projects that strengthen communities. Rabble makes it simple and straightforward for people – accredited and non-accredited investors alike – to invest in impactful ventures, real estate, and renewable energy projects.
Every year on Feb. 9th, my birthday, I take a day off to reflect on the past year and the coming year and just chill. I will be doing that tomorrow. Thanks to those who have already sent me birthday wishes. 2016 will be a year of great transition. Looking forward to each moment.
If you want to do something special for my birthday, give a donation to TBLI Foundation
I hope you enjoy this speech I recently gave in Stockholm. My dear friend Karl-Henrik (Kalle) Robert of The Natural Step organised the StepWise Conference-The Future of Leadership is Now. It was particularly special because King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden was in attendance. What was even more surprising is that he stayed to hear my talk, and enjoyed it. Thank you Kalle for the kind invitation and wonderful experience.
Today is officially the last day that Iris Bune will be working for TBLI. After 4 years of total commitment, she has decided to move on and pursue her love of Web Development.
When Iris first interviewed, I felt she was perfect for the job of general manager and project manager for TBLI. It didn’t matter what curve ball you through at her, she was always able to bring a sober, simple solution, with a great sense of humour. Iris always looked to streamline, professionalize, and improve the organisational elements that go into TBLI and the TBLI Conference.
She is a gentle giant. Her height and constant interrupting when you talk to her can be intimidating and frustrating, but she is an incredibly sensitive human being. Her passion about social and economic injustice goes further than just clicking like on Facebook. She really cares and most important is totally authentic. There isn’t another person inside. What you see is what you get.
I will miss the persistent interrupting me while talking. I will miss our weekly update on the latest tv episodes like The Americans, Breaking Bad, Shameless, American Crime and others. I will miss the laughing faces or lol text messages. I will miss her ability to be professionally critical of a new opportunity, remain totally dispassionate and sober, and at the same time being able to laugh. Wherever she goes, she will leave a lasting impression. She has clearly left her mark at TBLI. I wish her the best, as she deserves the best. Most of all I will miss her.
Stay in touch. If you ever need anything, just ask.
I was listening to the Planet Money podcast about how Wall Street is exacerbating the drought in California. It seems that investing large sums of money to speed up depleting the aquifer is a wise strategy for investors and farmers. Price of pistachio nuts is sky high and 1 pistachio nut needs 1 gallon of water, so farmers need to go deeper to pump up water, which needs more money. Wall Street to the rescue. Wonder if the fund managers are telling their asset owner investors that this agriculture investment is “impact investing”. This idea shows how the perversion of bonuses, no proper water pricing, and short term incentives makes good financial sense but very bad environmental sense. Check out the podcast.
Don’t reward bad behavior. It is one of the first rules of parenting. During the financial cataclysm of 2008, we said it differently. When we bailed out banks that had created their own misfortune, we called it a ‘moral hazard,’ because the bailout absolved the bank’s bad acts and created an incentive for it to make the same bad loans again.
I find several phenomena in and around the “impact” sector to be a bit perplexing, given its stated objective for seeking social returns alongside financial/economic returns. As financial purists or ‘socially neutral’ investors may look to receive strong returns–or at least commensurate with deployed risk–when it comes to social enterprise investing, sometimes behaviors and expectations compared to traditional investing efforts seem set aside or changed in the following ways:
Time horizon: there are numerous examples in high tech, social media and initiatives in the information and big data economy where companies have openly expressed no view to near term profitability, and yet institutional investors flock to such deals with the patience that the firm is working toward strong market share, sector dominance or to achieve total proof of concept. One look no further than amazon– the world’s largest cloud-service provider taking years to achieve profitability (arguably continuing to innovate in ways that sacrifice near term profitability). Mainstream investors seem to find such investments attractive despite no real near term returns…but social enterprise ventures seem to be held to a higher standard–where investors demand attractive exits in the short term and positive cash flows in 18-36 months that will justify injections of capital.
Low vs high tech: some of the most innovative new ventures boast high tech solutions to meet consumer demand, requiring relatively large capital and R&D investments. Yet, often we look to impact-oriented activities to employ low-tech solutions to solve pressing development challenges, forcing such companies to cut on needed investments that would otherwise be more costly but ultimately could lead to greater efficiencies in delivering on our social objectives at scale. While multiples may be more attractive in sectors like gaming–whereby mainstream investors often incentivize beta testing, market exploration and high tech innovation–social enterprise may equally see attractive economics if they too were able to make larger capital expenditures that would benefit investors over time AND help achieve greater impact.
Risk-return calculation: Financial returns are a mere representation or proxy for other forms of value to investors: increased personal security, greater life and work flexibility, the facilitation of desired lifestyle, and/or the feeling of success that comes with positive economic investments. But all such returns need to be measured against risk–be it deployed financial capital, leveraged assets or relationships, or foregone opportunity costs given competing priorities. It seems to me, that if we ultimately seek greater welfare for ourselves and our communities, social enterprise investments may bring returns that are indeed commensurate with or exceed our deployed risk.
Growing impact may require a broader look out our fundamental investment objectives, and a reconciling of the standards we hold to mainstream vs social enterprise.