Mobilizing the Boston Impact Investing Community

By Anna Sorokina, Investment Associate

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Every year, more and more people consider the importance of impact when deciding to invest – without a doubt, our community is growing. When speaking about impact investing, David Bank, editor of ImpactAlpha, shared a question: “Things that used to be cutting edge are becoming conventional wisdom. It is happening, but is it happening fast enough?”

Is it? And what challenges do we need to tackle in 2019 to ensure sustainable growth of this space?

Sunwealth kicked off the new year with an exciting conversation with major players in the impact investing community to brainstorm answers to these and other questions. Hosted by The New England Impact Investing Initiative (NEIII), BASIC Boston, and ImpactAlpha, the insightful evening at Goodwin LLP’s Waterfront office gave folks an opportunity to hear from Lucas Turner-Owens, Fund Manager from Boston Ujima Project; Tracy Palandjian, CEO & Co-Founder of Social Finance; Ellen Remmer, Senior Partner at The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI); and Carrie Endries, Senior Portfolio Manager and Director of Impact Investments at Reynders, McVeigh Capital Management.

Throughout the evening, we kept going back to the concept of community – something immediate and tangible, something that’s all around us that we are also part of, something that united everyone in the room. The panelists spoke about the community impact they create with their work: Lucas Turner-Owens described how Ujima is democratizing finance by collecting data on what types of businesses community residents want to see in their neighborhoods and figuring out how to invest in those businesses; Tracy Palandjian described the structure of the Massachusetts Pathways to Economic Advancement Project, which provides workforce development services in the Greater Boston Area. 

We, at Sunwealth, too, are working to build an inclusive future with community impact at its core. While having a fireside chat – alas the fire itself was a digital one – with David Bank, Jess Brooks, Chief Development Officer at Sunwealth, shared our  perspective.

“Our portfolio looks like our communities do – diverse. If you build up an inclusive portfolio, not only are you including the community, you’re also strengthening it. And not coincidentally, just like in our communities themselves, diversity makes the portfolio itself more resilient – reducing the risk of being invested in only one project or project type.”

 Sunwealth’s own projects and the experience of those in the industry have shown that impact investing can bring strong financial returns  for investors as well as returns for our communities, our local economies and the environment.  In 2019, we will continue to demonstrate how this works.

“Those [underserved] areas of markets are incredibly investable,” says Jess while speaking about small-scale projects that are not usually targeted by investors. “You just have to change the way you’re looking at them.”

For Sunwealth, the 2019 task is going to be continuing the work of decentralizing, decarbonizing, and democratizing our energy economy, while continuing to deliver returns to investors, communities and our environment. 

As the last words of encouragement for the new year, David left the audience with an answer to the question he asked in the beginning:

“Let’s get it done this year – do everything we are already doing, but with more vigor and capital.”


About the Author

Anna Sorokina is an Investment Associate co-op at Sunwealth and a senior at Northeastern University. She is passionate about renewable energy and believes in the power of education, art, and personal action when it comes to our responsibility for Mother Earth.

Jon Abe