Talking Impact Investment with Morgan Simon, Author of Real Impact: The New Econ of Social Change

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Morgan Simon has been a leader in impact investment for the past seventeen years and has managed over $150 billion in capital. She is the author of the book, Real Impact: The Economics of Social Change and spent some time to talk with us about impact investment. Venture Vignette host Riana Shah sat down with her at her offices in Oakland, CA and here are five things to take away from the conversation. 1. Go after your passion and turn it into an opportunity not just for yourself, but for others as well. Simon discovered impact investment through her passion for social justice. She started by working with a lot of neighboring immigrant communities and discovered that many of the challenges they faced had to do with economic autonomy and economic opportunity. As a result, she turned her attention to impact investment because it was the perfect intersection where she could apply her education in finance with her passion for social justice while helping underserved communities. 2. Build a network of people outside of your normal social group. Building a network and making friends is not as hard as you think! It’s as easy as calling up a local organization whose mission you care about and asking whether you could volunteer for them. Not only will you get to know your fellow neighbors and learn more about ongoing issues, but you never know when these relationships might turn themselves into job opportunities or to tap into underserved markets. 3. You don’t have to be a millionaire investor to influence capital. Feel empowered to demand increased transparency from the resource rich organizations (e.g. your alma mater) to which you are connected! Many people think that in order to influence capital, they need to have some amount of wealth to begin with. In reality, that’s not the case. Asking institutions (like your alma mater) where money is being invested and writing to them about where you would like to see your contributions go are easy ways to make an impact. If you’re looking for more ways to influence capital, think about breaking up with your bank and get involved with local institutions and look into social opportunities to make a difference. The more you are involved with organizations and institutions, the more opportunities there will be for you to influence capital. 4. For entrepreneurs who want to be involved in impact investment and uphold their values for a more just world, remember to be transparent with your investors. What Simon means by this is to be clear and open about what your values and intentions are in the context of your business model. Ask yourself who are the people you want to engage and benefit, are you adding more value than you extract and finally, with everyone taking on a risk in the investment transaction, are they all being rewarded in that process? 5. If you’re the only minority person in the room, don’t be intimidated. Use this moment as an opportunity to show that being a woman, a person of color, LGBTQ+ has nothing to do how well you do your job and show that you are just as good (if not better!) as your counterparts. Show your voice in this space and how much your unique experiences and perspective can benefit others. 6. In whatever you do, never be afraid to ask questions! For Simon, her entire job revolves around asking questions because there are always going to be things that she doesn’t know and there are experts out there who will know more than she does. Same for you, there are things you will know and now know, and by asking questions, you’ll learn things from different fields that you can bring to the table for your next exciting project! --- Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/venture-vignettes/support

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