Richard Branson shows how to sell biodiversity

In this post on the Virgin site savvy marketer Richard Branson outlines what is probably an effective way to reach the masses with the concept of biodiversitylemursmadagascarYou hold a cute animal, talk about the sadness of its loss, then say it’s safe to give and care about the country (in this case, Madagascar) because the next elections will be free and fair, and wind up by saying biodiversity is ALSO good for people. No irony there; there are many more lemur lovers with many more dollars than there are people who take action to care about poor people. There is also a documentary video

Pitches about biodiversity probably need that charismatic fauna appeal to get people to pay attention. Crises and now, with biodiversity as the goal, opportunities focusing on primates and megafauna (rhinos, elephants, lions, etc.) have proven to be effective to get people to take action. Virgin’s autopopulated pinterest  tagline says “biodiversity is vital to development.” Which also brings in business utility.

The post also mentions the upside of ecotourism, which Branson’s airline is obviously in favor of. The pattern of the pitch, from cute animal, to trusted place to give to (part of the Victorian need to only give to the “deserving poor)”, followed by the payoff for the people and closing with the upside for the local people and ecosystem of ecotourism is one that I think could work as a template for other places.

And the hidden message, encapsulated in every pinterest picture from the site, that biodiversity is good for development, is probably situated in the right place within the story’s frame.

Rockefeller puts energy behind resilience blog

The Rockefeller Foundation, which is funding chief resilience officers in 33 cities, 11 in the U.S., six of which have Impact Hubs, is making its blog a good source of news and commentary about resilience.

Branding the Regenerative Capital Fund

I like the idea of describing the thesis of the Regenerative Capital Fund as a bridge between the ideas of John Fullerton at the Capital Institute and his co author Hunter Lovins and the ideas of Morgan Simon and Andrea Armeni and her team at Transform Finance. If it works, we will be a fungible anecdote for two related, aligned but not yet actively partnering, as in making common cause, for two groups of thought leaders.  We can, if we do this well, be an example each one uses to illustrate how a fund would make use of their ideas,  as they explain to people how the world should be. We want to be one of the funds they point to as an iconic example.

My simple formulation of our thesis is we are about biodiversity meets inclusion at the corner of non extractive profits. Good Capital Holdings in investing in the General Partnership of the fund, (one of three we are investing in)in order to inform the thesis; the truth they are trying to prove and show the world. Shaun Paul is the managing director, with Ed Dugger the transaction guy and the one who has sold institutional players.

It’s really that simple. They carry our story everywhere they go. People who want to get serious about those ideas find us. We have a sidecar donor advised fund, (DAF) so the average person who can put up $5,000 can invest directly in our companies, or in us. We give them the choice; we have to validate our position as an intermediary in a transparent marketplace. We could even be paid with tips, like Kiva when they saw something good they realized we had a significant hand in.

I am thinking of ways to make our fund communal, partly owned by the community, easily, maybe through local lending clubs, which also let people put in small dollars. There is one forming here that I will be participating here. I plan to invest in Accelerating Appalachia this fund’s sister accelerator through that. I could not find a way to invest in a single seed stage company was in line with our Good Capital Holdings thesis. We are investing in horizontal ecosystem infrastructure. My continual push as I work with RegenCap is to push for the best story. Shaun and my own good sense will moderate that desire to make the story I want conform to reality. It will be fun.

Iirro Niemi and Anna Blume got us this far. I am excited to continue to work with them.

We also plan to tell this story as kind of road to SOCAP14 building the Regenerative Capital Fund reality series with this blog cross-posted on the SOCAP site. We will also open that platform to other funds which are forming.

Overall, my goal this year to light up and connect the nodes in my network, from the Impact Hubs we now own and operate in TriBeCa, Philly, San Francisco and soon DC with SOCAP and the funds and companies Good Capital Holdings (GCH) is investing in.

New regular interview series starts today!

Recently I interviewed Shaun Paul and Kevin Jones, who are going to establish a new impact investment fund next year. They are both prominent figures in the fields of social capital markets, social entrepreneurship and impact investing, and extremely interesting people to get to know. This site is meant to facilitate dialogue and discussion with partners, larger community and those who are interested in investing in resilience and building both biological and cultural diversity. First highlights from the interviews are presented below.

To start out, let’s let Kevin introduce himself, the diverse ecosystem he lives in and why he actually keeps doing all those things: 

The field of impact investing is not mature yet, but it’s developing at a rapid pace. Here’s Shaun’s take on the current state of the industry and how the framework of resilience fits into the picture.

There are indeed very exciting times ahead in 2014! In the last clip of these first highlights, Shaun looks to the next year and what kind of investors and additional partners we’re looking for to join us.

Thanks for reading and watching! After Christmas we will take a deeper look at resilience. So check back next week or follow us on Twitter.

If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below or contact Happy Holidays and stay tuned!


Climate Risk Reduction Index

Climate Risk Reduction Index

Managing climate risk is increasingly taking on many forms.  This UN backed initiative is undertaking regional, national and sub-national assessments where action can make a difference. They have begun with Central America followed with West Africa.  While oriented toward informing governments and aid agencies, it is also relevant at a local and enterprise level that can also consider what they identify as the most important risk drivers.

  • Risk Driver 1: Environment and natural resources.
  • Risk Driver 2: Socioeconomic conditions.
  • Risk Driver 3: Land use and the built environment.
  • Risk Driver 4: Governance.

This related Climate Vulnerability Monitor is a real eye opener offering a ‘guide to the cold calculus of a hot planet.’

Investing in ancestral superfoods: sustainable solution or passing fad?

I just gave a very well received presentation at Tufts University on ancestral superfoods. Densely nutritious foods like chia used by indigenous people for centuries worldwide are being discovered in a new way in response to consumers growing demand for naturally healthy food in developed and emerging markets. With demand exceeding supply for a variety of products, opportunities are abound to invest in expanding sustainably grown food that affirms traditional ecological knowledge, can be good to local people and the environment while bringing highly nutritious food to market.


Measuring impact on resilience: A case of the New England fishery

I had the opportunity this summer to spend some time with a Boston-based fish Red's Bestcompany called Red’s Best. Using a unique software platform, Red’s Best works to promote traceability in fisheries as well as the consumption of local, fresh, and diverse fish species from New England waters. During my time with them, I tried to assess the impact their company was having on the resilience of the social-ecological system they operate in. Drawing on information from stakeholder interviews and scientific literature, I built a framework through which to assess their impact on the New England fishery social-ecological system. It was incredibly interesting to see what insights the resilience approach can offer to this both company and the fishing industry, and also to uncover the many challenges of the resilience approach. Key findings are discussed in the attached report.

Measuring the impact of business on the resilience of social-ecological systems: A case study of Red’s Best and the New England fishery