Restorative Investing for a Just and Regenerative Economy
The post-colonised and hyper-capitalist world we live in fundamentally commoditises people and planet, leading to the inequity and climate crisis that we face today.
The system is not so much broken as rigged to benefit the few at the expense of many. Unless we recognise that we cannot use the same system that created the problems to solve them as well, we will never make the necessary systems change.
Nwamaka Agbo, CEO, Kataly Foundation, also known as the mother of “Restorative Economics” reminds us that the etymology of the word ‘economy’ dates back to its Greek definition: ‘the management of home’. “There is an opportunity for us to have a different world view; a different lens through which we come to understand the meaning of the word “economy” in terms of our collective home and our shared prosperity.”
Restorative economics at its essence, “centres on healing and restoration of vulnerable communities who have been marginalised and oppressed by a polluting and extractive economy by investing in strategies that create shared prosperity and self-determination for a just transition to the next economy,” Nwamaka says. This imperative is echoed in many indigenous funds including that run by Rangimarie Price, Director, The Connective in New Zealand. “From a Tikanga point of view, Tikanga is purpose and well-being driven, not profit driven. It focuses on upholding the well-being of people and the planet as being the determiners of how you would use capital and your best thinking to achieve those ends. That imposes on us a sacred obligation to deeply care for people and care for the life-supporting capacity of the planet, in perpetuity.”
At Angels of Impact, we see restorative investing as a tool to help amplify the impact of artisanal entrepreneurs. We see artisans as the “weavers” of the fabric of a resilient and just society given that they do so much for so much less, impact multitudes, and uphold the physical, spiritual, emotional and mental health of their communities. They also often play the role of preserving cultures and keeping families together. Yet despite their impact and success, impact investors are not biting. There is a clear funding gap for the “missing middle” entrepreneur who uplifts many artisan micro-entrepreneurs through capacity building, funding, market access and there is a clear opportunity to fill this gap.
Restorative investing focuses on inclusion, governing for the whole, regeneration – not just of the planet and environment, but also of relationships – and shared prosperity. It looks at not just directing blended/integrated capital to community-based enterprises with lived experience, but also at the terms (not extractive, patient, and works to keep wealth in the community), the process, the impact metrics (determined by the recipient and community rather than the funder). It seeks to shift the power and wealth back to marginalised communities and uplift them to bring about just and resilient systems change that can not only withstand the challenges of climate chaos but also offer the solutions needed.
For the artisan sector, restorative investing is a key path forward to a more just and regenerative economy.
Laina is CEO and Founder of Angels of Impact, and Senior Adjunct Lecturer at the National University of Singapore, School of Business. She has helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars for organisations of all sizes. She is also the co-author of a book — Sustainable Impact: How Women Are Key to Ending Poverty.