AFI is launching a Facebook page to help connect with Central Texas food based businesses, conscious capital investors, and any other organization or person trying to improve our food system. Please visit us!
FoodTank has assembled a list of 19 films about the food system and food and ag to "inspire, educate, and give viewers some food for thought.
Here's the list, with links to previews and ways to watch the flix.
14 page pdf from Merrill Lynch's Global Wealth and Retirement Services describing impact investing, the investment landscape, investor demand, and corporate response to that demand. Mainly focused on ESG, but of interest to the general impact investor as well.
The USDA recently posted a valuable tool - a Business Operations Guides for those running a "Food Hub" (which is defined as “a business or organization that actively manages the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products primarily from local and regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail, and institutional demand.” Click here to view the PDF.
"Cities and Agriculture: Developing Resilient Urban Food Systems", Edited by Hen de Zeeuw of the RUAF Foundation, provides urban planners, local policy makers and urban development practitioners with an overview of crucial aspects of urban food systems based on an up to date review of research results and practical experiences in both developed and developing countries.
Economist Michael Shuman's third book on local economies focuses on "polinators": organizations such as AFI that pursue regional economic development functions. Kirkus reviews the book, which starts with a critique of mainstream economic development.
Click the image to order from BookPeople.
Crowdfunder.com CEO Chance Barnett opines eloquently on the relative merits of crowdfunding, angel investing, and venture capital in this Forbes piece. $34B is expected to be crowdfunded in 2015, just over (hey, what's a couple billion dollars here and there) VC's $32B.
He writes, "What’s more, the current equity crowdfunding market is limited to accredited investors only. But what happens when an entirely new class of investors of potentially 250 million Americans poised under Title III and Title IV of the JOBS Act are empowered to participate and invest for the first time under new equity crowdfunding laws? The potential growth and impact could be staggering."
Barnett continues, addressing the potential for new hybrid VC / crowdfund approaches; transparency issues in private company investing; and new potential "venture exchanges".
We'd call this a must-read for anyone interested in the evolution of this space.
Then, if you really want to get your wonk on, try this one: "Why Choose? Why Not Do Both A Rule 506 Offering Followed by a Regulation A+ Offering?" by Jim Verdonik.
Quebec farmers Jean-Martin and Maude-Helene Fortier have figured out how to make 6 figures on a small plot of land in a place that's winter 9 months of the year. They write about it in their book The Market Gardener: A Successful Grower’s Handbook for Small-Scale Organic Farming.
The Fortier’s philosophy is “grow better, not bigger,” where"better" means not only better food from better soil, but also a better quality of life.
The couple’s approach to growing food is “biologically intensive,” incorporating permaculture methods like conservation tillage, building permanent beds (as opposed to creating new ones every season), and crop rotation.
Here's the whole article at Civil Eats.
The Sustainable Sourcing of Agricultural Raw Materials: A Practitioner's Guide is intended to help practitioners in companies that are seeking to source their agricultural raw materials sustainably, by asking and answering crucial questions in the following eight chapters:
1. How to Use this Guide
2. Sustainable Sourcing as Leadership and Value Creation
3. Implementing Sustainable Sourcing – Decisions to be Made
4. Setting Priorities for your Company’s inputs from Agriculture
5. Choosing Appropriate Sustainability Requirements.
6. Implementing Sustainability Standards in your Company’s Supply Chain
7. Adapting your Company’s Business Culture, Processes and Structures
8. Communicating the Company’s Sustainable Sourcing Effort
Source: Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform
Note: Will require you fill out contact info to download the 79 page .pdf
You just have to love Woody Tasch. From starting the Slow Money movement to his periodic wide-ranging, tangential, iconoclastic speeches and writing, Woody articulates both the incredulity and the hope of looking our system in the face and bearing down on the work to be done to improve it.
In this speech to the Food+Enterprise pitch-fest in Brooklyn on Feb 28, 2015, Woody lays out his latest, a "State of the Soil": "We are strong in terms of tillage, but weak in terms of fertility. We are strong measured in chemical and mechanical power but we are week in terms of soil erosion, weak in terms of connection to the land, weak in terms of sense of place."
Here's the 13 page pdf of the full speech. Please enjoy!
Close readers and return visitors to our little site here may recall a section called "Library", where we highlighted some of the most interesting research and websites we've come across.
To make way for a new section, "Community", we've compiled all the Library links here. Click "Read More" to see them all...
"NEW YORK, Feb. 27 /CSRwire/ - Over seventy percent of active individual investors (71%) describe themselves as interested in sustainable investing, and nearly two in three (65%) believe sustainable investing will become more prevalent over the next five years, according to a new survey published today by the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing. The new report examines the attitudes and perceptions of individual investors towards sustainable investing and considers the broader implications for investors, corporations and governments."
One question we at AFI often get has to do with investor returns, and whether investors need to accept sub-market returns
"Family Offices" are private investment companies that steward the financial resources of wealthy individuals and their families. According to Family Wealth Alliance, single and multi-family offices represent roughly $1.6 trillion in assets under advisement in North America. A 2013 Financial Times survey found that family offices allocated 17 percent of their assets under management to impact investments.
Yet according to a 2013 CFA institute study, 66 percent of financial advisors said that they were unaware of impact investing.
Here's the full article from Stanford Social Innovation Review.
The Charities Aid Foundation recently released a report called "Philanthropy: A gift or investment" which shows 79% of wealthy under 40s have an element of their portfolio allocated to socially conscious investments, those with some degree of social impact, compared to 57% of the over 40s.
Here is a great overview of the local and regional food systems from the Sustainable Table website of the Grace Communications Foundation.
Sonen Capital is a impact investment management firm headquartered in San Francisco.
They have published research reports that require one to register for their website, but are worth that small effort, including "Evolution of an Impact Portfolio", "2013 Annual Impact Report",
Former contributing editor to Gourmet magazine Barry Estabrook serves up 10 book recommendations including Margaret Gray's expose of labor conditions behind New York City's farmers' markets, "Labor and the Locavore", plus fun-ner stuff like James Rodewald's "American Spirit", about legal bootleggers and the fun juice they cook.
102 page .pdf for policy wonks surveying public policy around impact investing around the globe, including conceptual frameworks and case studies covering investment rules and requirements; taxes, subsidies, reporting requirements, and intermediation; and enabling corporate structures.
Published by IIPC, the Impact Investing Policy Collaborative, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation.
charting the course: how mainstream investors can design visionary and pragmatic impact investing strategies
56 page pdf from the World Economic Forum mainly targeting insurance companies, high net worth family offices, pension funds, endowments, foundations, and financial service providers with a conceptual framework with which to migrate asset holdings toward "impact" investments.
Says James P. Gorman of Morgan Stanley: "We help clients pursue sustainability because it reflects our values and because we believe it plays an increasingly important role in global finance. At Morgan Stanley, we are committed to sustainable investing and seek to mobilize the power of the capital markets to deliver positive impact at scale. Our firm can play a critical role in facilitating the flow of capital between investors and businesses to help foster sustainable growth and address the most pressing challenges facing society today."
Whether one actually believes that or not (!) might make good happy hour discussion, but regardless, this report signals that the overall topic of impact investing is on the radar of the largest financial players in the world.
Policy paper from US National Advisory Board highlights strategies for how the government can partner with impact investors to unleash new capital, talent, and energy for social, economic, and environmental good. 62 page pdf.
Includes a neat info graphic on the "Brief History of Impact Investing" and a roadmap for legislative action.
News from AFI; Links to stories on business-for-good, private-company investing, fundraising, & sustainable food.