Category Archives: Financing Black Progress

Pooling Our Resources to Foster Black Progress: An Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing Framework

Check out the new book, Pooling Our Resources to Foster Black Progress: An Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing Framework. The book:

  • Examines the great potential with respect to the powerful nexus among: black earning/buying/investing power, philanthropy and resource-pooling, buying/banking black, entrepreneurship, business development, job creation, wealth-building, and economic and social progress 
  • Shows how a potent, large-scale resource-pooling vehicle with a comprehensive framework that is able to harness this potential, especially with the galvanizing power of online and social media, can have immense impact 
  • Presents a framework for establishing such an initiative, in the form of a national impact investment fund — the “Excellence and Ventures Transformation Fund” (or “EXCEL-TRANSFORM Fund”) — that would address unemployment and poverty and help finish the “unfinished business” of the civil rights movement.

[Full disclosure: the author, Dr. Michael Isimbabi, a finance and energy industry professional, consultant, and former professor of finance, is affiliated with this website.]

 Look inside the book (the first 10%) for free and get it here (at Amazon.com): http://www.amazon.com/POOLING-RESOURCES-FOSTER-BLACK-PROGRESS-ebook/dp/B00HTWJ8BY.

Also join the discussion on the feasibility and establishment of the EXCEL-TRANSFORM Fund, innovative strategies for self-reliant resource-pooling, and related philanthropy, entrepreneurship, impact investing and empowerment issues at the book’s website, www.PoolingOurResources.com, and Google Plus.

The Racial Wealth Gap: Recent Studies

Less Than Equal: Racial Disparities in Wealth Accumulation. Signe-Mary McKernan, Caroline Ratcliffe, C. Eugene Steuerle & Sisi Zhang. Urban Institute. April 2013. 

When it comes to economic gaps between whites and communities of color in the United States, income inequality tells part of the story. But let’s not forget about wealth. Wealth isn’t just money in the bank, it’s insurance against tough times, tuition to get a better education and a better job, savings to retire on, and a springboard into the middle class. In short, wealth translates into opportunity.

…How Did the Great Recession Affect Wealth, and Who Lost the Most? While the Great Recession didn’t cause the wealth disparities between whites and minorities, it did exacerbate them. The 2007–09 recession brought about sharp declines in the wealth of white, black, and Hispanic families alike, but Hispanics experienced the largest decline. Lower home values account for much of Hispanics’ wealth loss, while retirement accounts are where blacks were hit hardest….

How Do We Fix This? Families of color were disproportionately affected by the recession. However, the fact that they were not on good wealth-building paths before this financial crisis calls into question whether a whole range of policies (from tax to safety net) have actually been helping minorities get ahead in the modern economy. More fundamentally, it raises the question of whether social welfare policies pay too little attention to wealth building and mobility relative to consumption and income….

…A common misconception is that poor or even low-income families cannot save. Research and evidence from savings programs shows they can. When we examined families living below the poverty level, we found that over a decade more than 40 percent were able to increase their networth and save enough to escape asset poverty—in other words, they had enough assets to live at the poverty level for three months without income (about $3,000 for an individual and $6,000 for a family of four). The federal government spends hundreds of billions of dollars each year to support long-term asset development. But these asset building subsidies primarily benefit high income families, while low-income families receive next to nothing. Reforming policies like the mortgage interest tax deduction so it benefits all families, and helping families enroll in automatic savings vehicles, will help improve wealth inequality and promote saving opportunities for all Americans.

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How America Built the Racial Wealth Gap. Lawrence D. Bobo. April 9, 2013.  Straight Up: Will leaders ever step up to fix the mess that social policy and our checkered past created?

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The Roots of the Widening Racial Wealth Gap: Explaining the Black-White Economic Divide. Thomas Shapiro, Tatjana Meschede and Sam Osoro. Research and Policy Brief. February 2013. Institute on Assets & Social Policy. Brandeis University.

KEY FINDINGS:

1. Tracing the same households over 25 years, the total wealth gap between white and African-American families nearly triples, increasing from $85,000 in 1984 to $236,500 in 2009.

2. The biggest drivers of the growing racial wealth gap are: • Years of homeownership • Household income • Unemployment, which is much more prominent among AfricanAmerican families • A college education • Inheritance, financial supports by families or friends, and preexisting family wealth

3. Equal achievements, such as income gains, yield unequal wealth rewards for whites and African-Americans.

 

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Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative – Publications and Materials. Insight Center for Community Economic Development.

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Lisa Hall, President/CEO of Calvert Foundation, on the Potential of Impact Investing to Transform Underserved Communities

Excerpts: Lisa Hall, President/CEO of Calvert Foundation, on the potential of impact investing to transform underserved communities

LisaHall-239x164Lisa Hall of the Calvert Foundation on Impact Investing: An In-depth Interview. Forbes.com. October 20, 2011.

….Rahim Kanani: How can we convince traditional investors to reevaluate their portfolios and consider social impact investing?

Lisa Hall: I thought about this a lot at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual conference, where I spoke about impact investing and the widening wealth gap. During the past few years, our economy has suffered greatly and yet the wealth keeps building at the top. Impact investment creates a virtuous circle of empowerment, opportunity, and engagement by connecting investors, underprivileged individuals, and communities. We need more people to get involved in impact investing because it is a critical part of the solution to closing the wealth gap. ….

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Lisa Hall on How Calvert Foundation is Democratizing Impact Investing. Forbes.com. December 17, 2012.

Sixteen years ago, Calvert Foundation was born of a seemingly improbable idea: using investment dollars to help end poverty.

Today, investment banks describe impact investing as an “emerging asset class”;… the impact investing market is estimated to raise at least $500 billion in the next decade;…and according to Calvert Foundation’s recent research survey, 72 percent of financial advisors are interested in offering impact investing products to clients….

Impact investing is undoubtedly an idea whose time has come. As budgets of philanthropies and governments have shrunk, investment capital has come to be recognized as a tool that can address some of the world’s most pressing problems.…..

Continue reading

Stephen DeBerry on the Power of Impact Investing to Foster Black Progress

16535_200_150One of the very interesting presentations at the Innovation and Impact Forum for Black Male Achievement conference, held October 3, 2012 in New York City, was on the transformational potential of “impact investing” by Stephen DeBerry, Founder and Chief Investment Officer at Bronze Investments and a partner at Kapor Capital

According to his bio, DeBerry “makes and manages investments that align strong financial returns with positive social impact.”

Watch his full presentation here: Stephen DeBerry: Power of Impact Investing & Technology.

Related:

The BlackProgress.com essay, Financing Black Progress, Part 2: A Self-Reliance “Marshall Plan”: Creating a National Resource-Pooling Fund, discusses impact investing in the context of a national resource-pooling “impact fund” that can attract investments from millions of black investors.

See also: Pooling Our Resources on a Large, Transformative Scale: Breaking Through the Trust Barrier

Community Investment Network Annual Conference, “The Philanthropic Renaissance,” to Foster Leveraging of Our Collective Resources

The Community Investment Network (CIN) is a national network of giving circles and “everyday philanthropists” that “inspires, connects and strengthens African Americans and communities of color to leverage their collective resources and create the change THEY wish to see.”

CIN’s 2012 conference, titled The Philanthropic Renaissance: Illuminating Creative Expressions of Giving, was held in Birmingham, Alabama, October 4-7, 2012. Among other things, the conference highlighted the growing movement of giving circles and community philanthropy.

For more information, visit the conference website and blog.

See also BlackGivesBack.com’s report on the conference: The “Philanthropic Renaissance” Illuminates Creative Expressions of Giving in Birmingham.

Perspectives on Buying Black

Maggie Anderson tells the story of her family’s pledge to buy black for an entire year in Our Black Year: One Family’s Quest to Buy Black in America’s Racially Divided Economy. [See links to media coverage of the book here.]

The Andersons’ endeavor evolved into The Empowerment Experiment, which “converts our family’s pledge into a positive awareness campaign about the need for strategic entrepreneurship and conscious consumerism in and to benefit the Black community.”

Ms. Anderson provides an excerpt from the book in Black Enterprise (July 2012): How To Buy Black (“14 strategies for conducting your own empowerment experiment”).  Continue reading

On Banking Black

Support Your Local Black Bank. Derek T. Dingle. Black Enterprise.com.
Buying Black is only one step to economic freedom, we also have to bank Black

“Popular syndicated radio talk show host Warren Ballentine recently teamed up with the National Bankers Association, the Washington, D. C.-based consortium of minority-owned financial institutions, to unveil “The People’s Economic Movement,” a program designed to encourage African American individuals and institutions to deposit dollars in Black banks. The initiative’s supporters, among others, include National Urban League President Marc Morial, NAACP head Benjamin Jealous and National Action Network President Rev. Al Sharpton.

Ballentine firmly believes Black institutions and consumers will recover from the Great Recession by pooling resources and strategically leveraging our buying power . “We don’t want to create a minute. We want to create a movement,” Ballentine told me earlier this week. “We’re asking everyone to get involved.” The call to action has been gaining traction as organizations like the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists have decided to transfer funds to local Black institutions.  Continue reading

Pooling Our Resources on a Large, Transformative Scale: Breaking Through the Trust Barrier

The “trust barrier” is the major obstacle hampering the establishment of a large-scale, self-reliance-based resource-pooling fund that can have a transformational impact in addressing urgent problems in our distressed communities. Even black churches are losing trust and credibility among many African Americans. There would be no “trust barrier,” however, if, for instance, five or more of the most respected African Americans got together to start a fund and hired a few highly competent people to run it.

A fund backed by such an ideal “dream team” is unlikely or infeasible (but not impossible!). The more likely way it will happen: a few visionary, motivated, and accomplished entrepreneurs who have solid, unblemished reputations, armed with a sound and credible business plan, convince some less well-known but equally highly-regarded people to back the fund. 

Such backing need not even be financial: by virtue of their strong reputations, relationships, and public standing, just lending their credibility, prestige, gravitas, and imprimatur to the fund will provide it with the instant credibility it needs to be able to attract contributions from large numbers of African Americans even at start-up.  This is the most likely way a potent large-scale fund will get established. 
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As discussed in the BlackProgress.com article, Financing Black Progress, Part 1: A Publicly Financed “Marshall Plan” Is Unrealistic, So What’s the Alternative? A “Self-Reliance Marshall Plan”?, given the current noxious and racially-charged political environment — in which even the reasonable and very modest American Jobs Act remains stalled in Congress – waiting for massive public investment in initiatives that can transform distressed communities of color is largely futile.

And there is no indication this situation will change in the near future. Regardless of who is president and whether or not Democrats retain control of the Senate and/or retake the House in 2013, Congress will most likely remain closely divided, highly polarized and acrimonious, and is unlikely to pass any legislation to fund, on a substantial enough scale, the types of initiatives that can sufficiently meet the dire needs of these communities.

Rather than simply standing by helplessly and wringing our hands while Congress remains gridlocked and yet another generation of children in distressed communities remains trapped in poverty and dysfunction, we must focus on organizing proactive self-reliance approaches to transform our own communities.

By pooling our resources on a large enough scale, we would be able to amass sufficient capital to adequately attack the most critical problems in our communities, especially with respect to education, entrepreneurship and business development, job creation, and wealth-building. The BlackProgress.com article, Financing Black Progress, Part 2: A Self-Reliance “Marshall Plan”: Creating a National Resource-Pooling Fund, discusses such a resource pooling effort–a National Ventures & Excellence Fund or “EXCEL Fund”. Continue reading

Trayvon Martin Tragedy Could Spur the Emergence of a “National Anti-Racial Profiling Fund”

There’s much expectation that outrage and anguish over the Trayvon Martin tragedy will spark a “movement” to combat racial profiling and focus the nation’s attention on finding solutions to the problem. [See the previous blog post: A Potent Anti-Profiling Movement As the Silver Lining From the Trayvon Martin Tragedy.]

A movement could emerge in the form of a grassroots effort led by students and young people, possibly with funding from a few affluent people. Or, a group of not-so-affluent people could pool financial and other resources to jump-start one. A few groups have already been formed but it is obviously too early to determine what sort of movement will ultimately emerge. Continue reading

Trayvon Martin Tragedy Impact: Will Affluent Blacks Finance an Anti-Profiling Movement/Fund?

The Trayvon Martin tragedy was a shocking reminder to every black person that he/she could easily be a victim of racial profiling, possibly with deadly consequences. The horrible incident could have happened to any black man or any black person’s son, brother, nephew, cousin, etc., however wealthy or well-accomplished they may be (see excerpt below from a column piece by the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson).

Would (at least) a few affluent African Americans therefore feel strongly enough about racial profiling to help jump-start a potent anti-racial profiling movement or fund? (See previous blog posts: Trayvon Martin Tragedy Could Spur the Emergence of a “National Anti-Racial Profiling Fund”; A Potent Anti-Profiling Movement As the Silver Lining From the Trayvon Martin Tragedy.) Continue reading