50 episodes

Get smarter about impact investing by joining us for a series of conversations with thought leaders and changemakers from all walks of life who are using for-profit approaches in surprising and creative ways to drive social and environmental impact.

Sign up at www.impactinvesting.how for a ton of free resources to help you up your impact game.

The Impact Investing Podcast David O'Leary

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 17 Ratings

Get smarter about impact investing by joining us for a series of conversations with thought leaders and changemakers from all walks of life who are using for-profit approaches in surprising and creative ways to drive social and environmental impact.

Sign up at www.impactinvesting.how for a ton of free resources to help you up your impact game.

    49 - Building the field of regenerative media

    49 - Building the field of regenerative media

    Modern media is both wonderful and scary. It represents both the best of what people have to offer and the worst. It can include beautiful works of art by independent artists that tell stories to lift the human spirit and pass along cultural lessons and values or, as is so often the case today, is a mindless clickbait article or listicle about “10 celebrities who don’t wash their hair every day.“ That’s because modern media content is increasingly being determined by finely-tuned algorithms optimizing for clicks, engagement, and ultimately profitability, rather than any higher purpose.

    Meanwhile, an increasing number of studies are demonstrating strong links between our consumption of digital and social media with an increased risk for depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, and even suicidal thoughts. Continuing to allow companies to A/B test on us at scale for the sole purpose of optimizing their profitability, without regard for the toll it takes on our physical and emotional well-being, is a recipe for disaster.

    Enter today’s guest Charlene SanJenko, founder of reGEN Media. This 100% Indigenous-owned and female-led media partnerships organization matches progressive impact investors with purpose-driven brand advertising dollars to fund transformative media projects that deliver both social and financial returns. Charlene is a national marketing manager, competitive athlete, digital media arts professional, and Indigenous storyteller.

    In this episode, we discuss Charlene’s journey to launching reGEN Media, the problems she sees with modern media, her vision for the field of impact media and reGEN in particular, and examples of indigenous-led media projects she has begun supporting, including her own documentary about her journey to reconnect with her Indigenous roots as an adult adoptee. And be sure to stay tuned to the very end when Charlene shares more about the opportunities for how Brands and impact investors can support these amazing media projects.

    Resources from this episode:

    reGEN Media’s website and LinkedIn page.Charlene’s LinkedIn Profile and Twitter page.

    • 1 hr 1 min
    48 - Addressing climate change & housing affordability through real estate development

    48 - Addressing climate change & housing affordability through real estate development

    Real estate as an asset class has had an absolutely remarkably run since the 1980’s when we entered a several-decade period of economic prosperity, stable inflation, and declining interest rates. Add to that, more than a decade of quantitative easing that continued to ensure cheap financing was available for consumers and homebuyers alike.

    But as with every good story, it eventually must come to an end, as it has for real estate and the economy more generally in 2022. As inflation has reared its head, we’ve been left rising interest rates on top of high prices for goods and real estate, thereby dramatically straining housing affordability.

    Enter today’s guest, Mazyar Mortavazi, President & CEO of TAS Impact, an unconventional impact company that uses real estate as a tool to tackle climate change, broaden affordability and equity, and build social capital to create neighbourhoods– and ultimately cities – where people thrive and belong. TAS Impact is a Certified B Corporation, a signatory to PRI and a member of the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), TAS pursues opportunities that create value for investors and generate measurable social and environmental impact.

    During this episode, Mazyar and I discuss the current state of the real estate market and how we got into the affordability predicament we’re in, the institutionalization of residential real estate investing, the ESG and impact issues with conventional real estate development, new investment models addressing housing affordability, TAS Impact’s impact measurement framework, and the importance of inviting communities into the property development process. And be sure to stay tuned to the very end when Mazyar discusses where he sees the real estate industry headed in the next decade.

    Resources from this episode:
    Tas Impact FrameworkInaugural Annual Tas Impact Report 2022Mazyar’s Twitter
    Resources from the episode announcements:

    Check out Criterion Institute’s new podcastDiscussion of Employee Ownership Trusts

    • 1 hr 4 min
    47 - Transforming our unsustainable and inhumane food systems

    47 - Transforming our unsustainable and inhumane food systems

    Climate change is widely recognized as an existential threat to humanity. Chief among the contributors to climate change is our food systems. The advent of modern industrial farming brought with it a sharp increase in our ability to feed the planet. Yet this industrialization has been so rapid and so extreme that we’re now recognizing how unhealthy and unsustainable our practices have become.

    Despite these advances, the system will crack under the pressure of our expected population growth (the UN predicts the global population to hit 10 billion by 2050). This is because animal agriculture is a wildly inefficient food source. The time and resources it takes to provide land, food, and water produces far fewer calories for consumption than the investment required to simply grow plants for us to eat.

    Recently though we’ve seen an explosion of demand for healthier and more sustainable food choices along with a flourishing of innovation. Enter today’s guest, Elysabeth Alfano, Founder & CEO of VegTech Invest; provider of the world’s first pure-play ETF investing in plant-based innovation. Launched in Dec 2021, the VegTech Plant-Based Innovation & Climate ETF (ticker: EATV) invests in “a portfolio of high growth global equities in a pure-play plant-based innovation and technology category. VegTech™ companies are those that are innovating with plants and plant-derived ingredients to create animal-free products for sustainable consumption.”

    During this episode, Elysabeth and I have a wide-ranging conversation on all things related to our food systems and the innovation we’re seeing in plant-based foods. Our conversation runs the gamut from discussing the size and scope of the problem with industrialized factory farming to more sustainable alternatives such as plant-based burgers like Beyond Meat, popular non-dairy alternatives like Oatmilk, advances in cultured (aka lab-grown) meat and cheese, and all sorts of other fascinating innovations. And be sure to stay tuned to the very end when we talk about how the VegTech ETF works and what companies the fund is investing in now.

    Resources from this episode:

    Elysabeth’s Twitter and LinkedInVegTech Invest’s ETF websiteViolife Parmesan Style plant-based cheeseThe Oatmilk and Oatbutter Dave loves.

    • 1 hr 5 min
    46 - Why assets managers should be managing the risk of Gender-Based Violence

    46 - Why assets managers should be managing the risk of Gender-Based Violence

    Gender lens investing is a field that is far more robust and complex than most people realize. Often gender considerations are reduced to a check-box exercise where investors count the number of women being served, women-led businesses being financed, or women sitting on boards. More ambitious gender lens investors may expand the scope of their analysis to consider issues such as pay equity, parental leave policy for workers, and forced arbitration. 

    Yet even the most ambitious gender-lens investors do not think much about the diverse range of factors that can affect gender equality and social inclusion across the globe, not just a given company, project, or industry. Most often this analysis is considered too complex and the gathering of high-quality, standardized data, far too onerous. That’s because the range of issues on a global scale is mind-bending and covers disparate areas such as financial inclusion, unpaid care work, land & property ownership rights, education & literacy rates, nutrition & food security, sexual & reproductive health rights, and the list goes on. In short, there isn’t an area of our global social fabric that gender equality doesn’t touch. 

    Enter today’s guest, Jessica Menon, who is solving this challenge as Founder & CEO of Equilo. Jessica is a gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) specialist with 20 years of experience conducting gender analyses, crafting gender action plans, managing organizational change management with a gender lens, and implementing systems-level change to advance GESI globally. She has experience working across development, humanitarian, finance, and private sectors in a wide range of industries. She also holds a Master of Public Policy from the Georgetown Public Policy Institute. 

    During this episode Jessica and I discuss Equilo’s work bringing together data, analytics, and tools to inform better gender-transformative decision-making across government, non-profits, and for-profit businesses. We discuss in detail two of Equilo’s tools, the GESI Contextual Analysis, and the Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Risk Score, the methodology underpinning them, the challenges around data collection and comparability, and some of the surprising results of how various countries score on GBV Risk, and how investors should interpret and integrate this data. And be sure to stay tuned to the very end where Jessica discusses the exciting new predictive modelling work they are doing now. 

    Resources mentioned during the episode: 
    Equilo website (where you can sign up for the GBV Risk Score and GESI analysis for free)GESI Contextual AnalysisGBV Risk ScoreJessica’s LinkedIn ProfileUNICEF and Criterion InstituteEpisode 30 of the Impact Investing Podcast, A deep dive into gender lens investing with a true OG of the movement, with Joy AndersonEpisode 33 of the Impact Investing Podcast, Challenging the Nobel-prize-winning theory that stands in the way of impact investing with Jon LukomnikOpen positions/opportunities to work with Equilo

    • 13 min
    45 - Investing for systemic change in a world of Web3

    45 - Investing for systemic change in a world of Web3

    In an era already notable for remarkable technological innovation, we are approaching a precipice that could potentially make the last 30 years of progress seem quaint by comparison. The dawn and convergence of artificial intelligence, genome sequencing, robotics, energy storage, and the blockchain threaten to fundamentally disrupt the status quo as we know it.

    The advent of the blockchain, for instance, has led to a paradigm shift - known as Web3. This paradigm shift is seeing a move away from the closed protocol that has dominated software development over the past 20 years — where the Twitter's, Facebook's, and Google's of the world own their user data and collect the lion's share of the economic value — and moving to a world of open sourced development where creators and communities share the economics and users own their data.

    Already terms like DeFi (Decentralized Finance), DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations), and NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) are entering the common vernacular, even if many of us still don't quite understand them. At their best, innovations like this are allowing people to work collaboratively in ways that allow communities to form, share ownership, establish good governance, and operate transparently. But already there are those who worry that the potential of web3 is being co-opted by big business.

    Enter today's guest, Michael Lewkowitz, Co-Founder and General Partner at Possibilian Ventures; a pre-seed / seed investor in companies building a better future across the transition and cooperation economies. What makes Possibilian particularly interesting is that it is focused on supporting founders who are leveraging these converging technological breakthroughs to unlock true systems change to address the two biggest existential threats we face: climate change and inequality.

    During the episode, Michael and I discuss Possibilian's unique thesis, five areas of transition we're currently experiencing, the definition of terms like Web3, DeFi, NFTs, and DAOs, why Web3 could massively disrupt the status quo, and examples of investments Possibilian is making in companies leveraging these technologies for systemic change. And be sure to stay tuned to the very end where Michael shares his outlook for what possibilities these new technologies could enable over the next decade.

    Resources from this episode:Possibilian Ventures WebsitePossibilian's Perspective on Venture & TransformationKlima DAOConstitution DAOs bid to buy the US ConstitutionEpisode #542 of the Tim Ferris Podcast discussing Web 3 with Chris Dixon and Naval RavikantChris Dixon's TwitterNaval Ravikant's TwitterAndreesen Horowitz Web3 Learning Resources
    From the Episode Announcements: i2 Impact Investing (Columbia)

    • 13 min
    44 - The Rhodes scholar who is democratizing access to impact investments in Africa

    44 - The Rhodes scholar who is democratizing access to impact investments in Africa

     When you consider that the traditional investment industry can be traced as far back as ancient Mesopotamia in 1700 BCE, the field of impact investing is a baby. Indeed the term itself wasn't coined until 2007. Since then the industry has been evolving and growing rapidly. 

    Yet much of that growth has been occurring among a relatively small group of investors and concentrated heavily in a relatively small number of markets. Even today most of the world's aspiring entrepreneurs do not have access to the capital they need to grow their small businesses. And the ordinary investors who might like to provide that capital are barred from doing so due to investor protection regulations. 

    Herein lies one of the most significant criticisms of impact investing. Much like the traditional investment world, the impact investment industry is still dominated by a small number of investors and institutions supplying capital to a select group of entrepreneurs. 

    Enter today's guest, Sarah Burns, Founder, and CEO of Nia Crowdfund. Nia is an online investment platform serving up opportunities to make impact investments in small businesses across Africa. Nia aims to address the missing middle of finance (a problem we’ve discussed at length on this podcast) to provide between $100,000 and $1M of capital to early stages businesses. What further distinguishes Nia Crowdfund is that not only are they supplying this critical early-stage financing but they are focused on allowing ordinary investors to also participate in supplying that capital. 

    During this episode, Sarah and I discuss her fascinating background of volunteering, researching, and working through the developing world, her doctoral thesis on impact investing as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, and now her work founding Nia Crowdfund to address the missing middle of finance while also democratizing access to impact investing. 

    Through the conversation, we discuss why the missing middle of finance is a challenge, the importance of democratizing access to impact investing, the well-intended regulations that exclude retail investors from it, and how Nia Crowdfund was designed to address the problems Sarah encountered during her work advising an ultra-high-net-worth impact investor. And be sure to stay tuned to the very end where Sarah and I discuss whether impact measurement is beneficial or harmful to drive real impact. 
     Resources from this episode: Nia websiteLearn about and register to join monthly live impact investment pitch events hosted by Nia.Sarah Burns LinkedIn ProfilePaul Collier's The Bottom BillionKIVA Microlending website
    *** We've been nominated for the Quill Podcast Awards in two categories, Best Business Podcast and Best Finance Podcast. We would appreciate your support, vote for us here!

    • 26 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
17 Ratings

17 Ratings

Meg7845 ,

Great host and important topic

A go to podcast for impact investing!

Commitment Israel ,

So Important

I’ve only discovered this podcast recently but am thrilled to have found such a gem.

Although it wasn’t the first episode I came across, the one on impact opportunities within the mining industry was so on point. Bringing sustainability to the mining industry has been a passion of mine for several years and as discussed in the podcast, is such an important part of our transition to a sustainable economy. 👌

While the world population has doubled since the 1970’s, resource extraction has tripled! And the demand for mined resources is only increasing with the transition to EV’s and green energy. So even minor increases in the sustainability of mining can have astronomical impact globally.

Cheers David for your contributions to raising awareness on such an important topic. 🥂

Kira Gidron ,

Fantastic way to learn about the impact investing field!

I've been listening to this podcast for the past 2+ years. It has been one of the few that I listen to most regularly. I like David's approach to interviews, the guests he has had, the topics he has covered and the overall quality of the episodes (even sound-wise). It has helped me really ramp up my knowledge of impact investing; it's great because over the past few months I have finally been able to use some of this in my work. But even if that's not your case, impact investing is incredibly important to the social impact space.

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