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Sustainable Luxury Heroines

Guest contribution by Milena Cvijanovich

Women are undoubtedly the leaders of the fabulously successful new Sustainable Luxury business model. They show us through their amazing results how cool, glamorous, sophisticated AND essentially powerful Luxury can be when it has the mission to respect our planet and life of its inhabitants.

High-profile individuals such as Livia Firth with her Green Carpet Challenge and Francine LeFrak, founder of Same Sky, help break the vicious circle of poverty, discrimination and marginalization through beautiful objects handcrafted by women for a market which can afford to help this change. Unsung heroines such as social entrepreneurs Adriana Marina of Animan; and Aissa Dione, a Senegalese textile designer, are further shining examples of the beauty of this new-found synergy. These businesswomen have brought hope and pride back to their own struggling communities with the highly successful manufacture of exquisite textile and other heritage crafts sold to top designers worldwide.

I’ve collected just a very small sampling of these inspiring women and their contribution to the powerful duo-luxury and women’s empowerment.

Livia Firth, wife of actor Collin Firth, seduced the fashion industry, taking clever advantage of her A-list status to launch the Green Carpet Challenge. Throwing the gauntlet to celeb sand designers to take on eco textiles, she got stellar results: Gucci’s new zero-deforestation handbag line, Valentino’s haute couture eco gowns worn at the Oscars, Mette-Marit, crown princess of Norway’s sustainable Pucci dress at a royal wedding. Eco Age, Livia’s venture, is sky-rocketing with star-studded partnerships. As Livia says, “No one has to wear hemp and sandals” to show eco-awareness. With a wink she makes me feel her soft black dress whispering, “Hemp – by Valentino.”

Francine Le Frak has been a philanthropist practically since her childhood. Well-known in the entertainment industry, she is an award-winning theatrical, television and movie producer and has been recognized as a social issue film producer. In 2008, Francine founded Same Sky, a socially-conscious jewelry venture. The company began in Rwanda to give women who had survived the Rwandan genocide a new chance in life. “My vision for Same Sky is to continue partnering with other like-minded companies in order to build a marketplace for products that are handmade, possess authenticity and support artisan communities around the globe. Ultimately we want to spread the idea that shopping can change the world.”

“The beauty of having a successful business is it gives you a wonderful economic platform from which to do good.” Connie Duckworth, retired Partner and Managing Director of GoldmanSachs, transforms the lives of Afghan women through Arzu Studio Hope, a highly successful social enterprise offering stunning bespoke carpets. Working with renowned designers including Zaha Hadid and Michael Graves, Connie celebrates the art of weaving while bringing education and economic independence to women in a struggling,war-torn country.

While the traditional textile industry was disappearing in Senegal with the influx of foreign products, textile designer Aissa Dione came along, an Amazon in shining armor, and launched in 1992 a company specialized in high-end weaving employing over a hundred people. Attracting international designers such as Jacques Grange, Peter Marino and Christian Liaigre with her exquisite furniture textiles, Aissa is perpetuating the skills of traditional Mandjaque weavers and the processing of local African cottons and natural dyes. Aissa’s graphic transformation of traditional patterns into fusion designs for the Western luxury market has brought economic transformation to her impoverished region.

Sustainable Luxury drives positive change through financially viable, culturally enriching and environmentally respectful business opportunities, empowering women from all corners of the globe to connect at all levels and create profitable (and memorable) ventures.

About Milena Cvijanovich:

Serbo-swiss architect Milena Cvijanovich holds a Masters in Architecture from Carnegie Mellon University in the USA. Founder of MCM Designstudio, an international architecture, design and sustainability consulting firm based in Switzerland, Milena lectures on sustainability and the luxury design world and is active in impact investment and gender equality projects. She is also the founder of the Ethnosphere trademark label to be launched end 2013 with the mission to drive change through design.

[Image credit: 123RF]

Empowering Women Through Impact Reaching a helping hand across the “Pioneer Gap”

by Marta Maretich, Chief Writer, Maximpact.com

Women’s financial empowerment has been a hot topic in recent months. There’s a definite (deserved) buzz around gender-lens investing and its potential to make more of impact capital. Yet, while the gender lens approach is an exciting step forward for women’s financial empowerment, it isn’t the whole story.

Impact investing isn’t an island anymore; it’s now becoming part of the financial mainland. By the same token, investing in women happens within the much larger context of the global financial markets on the one hand and the developing impact investing industry on the other.

Looking more deeply into the subject of women and the flow of impact capital reveals a number of areas where the practice of gender lens investing intersects with larger issues in the impact sector. One of these is the sticky issue of supporting impact businesses as they struggle through the”pioneer gap” the tricky mid-stage between startup and market viability.

It’s now clear that women business leaders are a good bet in both financial and impact terms. But when it gets down to choosing investments, practical questions remain: Which female leaders are we really talking about? And which businesses, at which stage?

Doing good vs. making money?

To make the right decisions when it comes to gender lens investing, investors and funds need to come to terms with the fact that the impact investing sector is still a divided marketplace. On the one hand are businesses whose main aim is to do good, especially for the poor; on the other are those whose central goal is market-rate returns. The gender lens, while it helps bring focus in many ways, may not pick up this fundamental difference.

So at which end of the spectrum should we put our capital if our goal is to empower women? The answer is both; plus more in the middle.

There are good options for female-centered investors who want their capital to have the most impact for poor and under served women. Veteran social financiers like Root Capital and Village Capital have reliable track records. Incubator programs, contests and honors for women social entrepreneurs have proliferated across the social benefit finance sector. The enterprises they work with are typically small seed-stage ventures, run by individuals or small teams. They often use microfinance models and with notable exceptions they are often based in the developing world.

On the other end of the spectrum are more impact investments in traditional areas like large-scale infrastructure, renewable energy, real estate and commodities. Today the majority of the more than $4 billion of impact capital is invested these kinds of businesses in developing markets. Very few of them are led by women (as a benchmark, women CEOs run only 4.2% of Fortune 500 companies; only 16% of directors are women). Some of the “new”impact industries, especially tech firms, are among the most male-dominated. And while these businesses may bring benefits to women in a broad sense, their positive impacts tend to by pass the poorest and neediest.

Targeting the missing middle

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with any of this;diversity is one of the strengths of the impact investing sector and the picture is always changing as we learn more. Yet the division points, once again, to a nagging sector-wide issue: the lack of mid-stage businesses with both strong impact credentials and growth potential. This is a crucial problem for female-friendly impact investors.

Recent research has identified some of the factors behind this “pioneer gap”. The main problem is that it’s very difficult for impact businesses to scale up,especially in developing countries where they lack basic market infrastructure, skilled workers and the right kind of capital. Often, there’s support from incubators at the seed stage, but this evaporates as the enterprise gets bigger and its needs become more specialized and complex. Entrepreneurs, whether male or female, struggle to provide leadership at this stage, often lacking key skills or access to expertise or networks that can help them. Many promising impact businesses die here.

For female-focused investors, there’s another issue. The abundance of seed-stage female-led businesses tends to divert attention away from the shortage of investable female-led businesses at the middle stage. The fact remains that many small seed-stage social enterprises, though worthy, will never scale up; some can’t, some simply don’t want to. Yet impact investors; those who are playing for real; need to place capital in businesses that grow, or at least have growth potential.

The disconnect between seed-stage social businesses and growth helps create a hole in the middle of the marketplace where some of the most dynamic investment opportunities should be. More importantly, it can mean that women-centered investments don’t have the transformational effect they should have. Investing in seed-stage women entrepreneurs may bring local benefits, but unless they go on to build organizations and scale their businesses, they will never enter the mainstream global marketplace or reach more beneficiaries. This limits their scope for impact.

Growth-friendly and female-friendly, too

The problem of the missing middle is slowing the development of the impact sector, but it also creates an opportunity for investors and funds. Those who want to focus their capital on women can multiply the benefit of their investments by targeting mid-stage female-led businesses with growth potential.

  • – Make supporting mid-stage impact businesses a priority in your woman-centered portfolio.
  • – Analyze the portfolio: How much investment is going to mid-stage businesses? How much capital is backing intermediaries and accelerators who work with mid-stage businesses?
  • – Partner with impact accelerators and intermediaries who specialize in supporting businesses in the pioneer gap; LGT Philanthropy’s Smiling World Accelerator Program is one example.
  • – Consider women-friendly investments with more modest financial returns: 5% per year or lower. Modest return goals mean mid-stage businesses can benefit from capital without being squeezed by investor expectations.
  • – Create a woman-centered fund backed by philanthropic capital. Rather than channeling philanthropy dollars away from good causes, use them as capital for supporting mid-stage businesses in the pioneer gap, as Acumen does.
  • – Build blended investment funds that combine capital with philanthropic or technical support funding for mid-stage businesses. Sophisticated impact funds, such as the Grassroots Business Fund, are increasingly using models that blend philanthropic with impact capital.
  • – Look outside the social benefit sector for scalable female-led businesses that have positive impacts. Mainstream investments in areas like health, renewable energy, accessible finance,education and biomimicry are all areas where women business leaders are making a mark as well as a contribution. Open deal sites like Maximpact have a range of different kinds of deals in different sectors.

Using gender lens goes some way toward encouraging investment choices that benefit women. By looking more deeply at the nature of these businesses; and meeting their needs at each point in their growth cycle; investors can do even more for women, especially those making the difficult shift from entrepreneur to organizational leader. At the same time they can help build the impact marketplace by nurturing businesses through the pioneer gap. It’s a win-win-win situation for women, investors and the marketplace.

[Image credit: 123RF]

Impactful Empowerment: UnitedSucces

Guest contribution by Yvonne Finch, Director of UnitedSucces

When exploring the words “impact” and “empowerment” it is easy to overlook the true depth of meaning behind the potential for the words when you combine them! Exploring how women throughout the world can be positively affected so that they feel the true benefit of impactful empowerment it is important to explore why women don’t succeed or don’t proceed as fast as expected.

In business it remains a fact that there are not enough women on Boards, that access to finance for a woman to grow her business is a consistent challenge, and acceptance that a woman can juggle the roles of mother, wife, and successful career woman are still questioned.

Getting to grips with why progress seems slow is the key to unlocking the potential of “what might be”. Questions asked of women about how to survive and climb up within the world of business world evoke interesting responses and are often not related to the predicted ones. Concerns about proving competency, even though this is unnecessary, and worrying about how to move to the next level, surface from those perceived to be successful and in all cases there is no proven reality to their thoughts.

So what is wrong? What should women do to bridge gaps? What is the real challenge?

Interestingly everything is fear based. Fear from the individuals of what might happen as a result of some action. If they speak up about development needs could they be seen as incompetent or weak, or if they share their years of knowledge will their job or business be compromised?

How can fear be circumvented? Acknowledging the emotion is the first step forward and once this is accepted it is a small step to find the courage to understand the basis for the fear and to address it. This is where the open and honest support from other women can provide a platform for personal growth.

Choosing a women’s organisation whose members understand the journey being undertaken and where those members are prepared to reach out and share their expertise, life journey or skill is a proven way to overcome some of the paralysis that fear can provoke. Mentoring programmes also add an alternative dimension to understanding and individual growth.

These interventions are based on women being able to access a place of trust. A trusting environment allows individuals to grow at their own pace, safely. And it allows for feedback to be given where barriers to acceptance are negated. Seeking creative solutions to challenges through the support of another has proven to have worth.

When women make the time to engage with each other and put budget aside to join an organisation that exposes them to women in other world geographical locations, they can more easily assess the true relevance of any negative self-talk they may experience.

They can meet women who could become their informal mentors or participate in a more formalised mentoring structure and they can become mentors for others. These actions allow for bench marking of achievements and women learn that it is OK to pat themselves on the back.

Women often live exceptionally busy lives, and are known to work longer hours than their male counterparts, so they will often put themselves at the back of the queue in the opportunity of self development, as they perceive that other commitments should come first. Yet wisdom states that the journey “forward” is far longer when started from the back!

So “impactful empowerment” or “strong liberation” will result when concrete steps towards eradicating fear are achieved, and positive self belief replaces negative self perception.

About UnitedSucces

UnitedSucces is an international business organisation of carefully selected ethical women entrepreneurs. UnitedSucces believes that economically empowered women, who have a support system they can depend on, have a significantly high impact on society, through investing in improved livelihood, health and education of their families and broader communities. By supporting the needs of emerging and established female entrepreneurs, and by sharing best practices of impactful and sustainable female-owned businesses, UnitedSucces aims to empower and support future responsible female leaders assisting them to make a lasting contribution to the communities and countries they operate in. For more information visit: www.unitedsucces.com

[Image credit: United Succes]

7 Key Impact Investing Vehicles Targeting Women

By Ana LaRue

Women’s empowerment looks to be one of the transformative economic trends of our time. There is a business case for gender inclusiveness and how investors can work with a gender lens to achieve their investment goals. A wealth of research shows how investing in women around the world produces powerful results that benefit families, communities and entire societies – and on top of all makes for good ROI.

While the flow of significant investment assets toward gender lens investing is still in its initial stages, success of those at the forefront is proving that this trend is here to stay.

In a previous blog post we discussed how to strengthen female leadership and career development across the impact investing sector. We now review what are some of the leading organizations when it comes to investing with a gender lens, where to look for opportunities and resources and what are some of the key investment vehicles specifically targeting women.

1. Female centered networking organizations:

  • 85 Broads – Global network of 30,000 women whose mission is to generate exceptional professional and social value for its members.
  • Catalytic Women – Membership based women’s network funding social impact, at any level and to every issue area.
  • National Council for Research on Women – Network of leading university and community based research, policy, and advocacy centers dedicated to advancing rights and opportunities for women and girls.
  • Empower women – UN’s open global community for knowledge mobilization, innovation and partnerships in women’s economic empowerment.

2. Women’s investing networks and organizations:

3. Organizations working to increase the number of women on boards:

  • 20/20 Women on Boards – National campaign aiming to increase the percentage of women on U.S. company boards to 20% or more by the year 2020.
  • Catalyst – The leading nonprofit organization dedicated to building more inclusive environments and expanding opportunities for women at work.
  • 30% Coalition – Organization that is committed to the goal of women holding 30% of board seats across public companies by the end of 2015.

4. Gender lens centered philanthropy, foundations and endowments

  • Women Moving Millions – Community of individuals who have made gifts and pledges of $1 million or more to organizations and initiatives promoting the advancement and empowerment of women and girls.
  • Women Donors Network – Through member-led Donor Circles, regional events and trainings, and network-wide strategic initiatives, this network gives members the opportunity to connect with key leaders in the social change movement and participate in strategic grant making opportunities.
  • High Water Women – Volunteer-driven organization working with nonprofit partners to identify significant volunteer and grant making opportunities to leverage the talents and aspirations of professional women.

5. Angel investors focused on women-led startups:

  • Pipeline Fellowship – Boot camp for women angel investors, working to increase diversity in the angel investing community and create capital for women social entrepreneurs.
  • Astia Angels – Global network of female and male angel investors that invests in women-led, high-growth ventures in high tech, clean tech, life science, health and wellness products.
  • 37 Angels – Community of female investors committed to funding early stage startups.

6. Investment firms that pursues above market returns through investing in women:

7. Microfinance institutions empowering women in developing countries:

Many microfinance institutions often channel a large percentage of their loans to women. Some examples include:

  • Grameen bank – World’s largest microfinance institution whose more than 90% of clients are women.
  • Women’s microfinance initiative – Microfinance program establishing village-level loan hubs, administered by local women, to provide capital, training and support to rural women.
  • Kashf – First specialized microfinance program in Pakistan to specifically target women.

Read more about Empowering Women through Impact.

Women’s empowerment is an important sector of Maximpact’s network. Log in now to search different Women empowerment focused projects, intermediaries and funds.

[Image credit: nexusplexus, 123RF]

Making the Most of Women Professionals in Impact Investing

7 Steps Toward Strengthening Female Leadership and Career Development Across the Sector

by Marta Maretich

Women are breaking ground in the field of impact investing. The prominence of female leaders such as Jacqueline Novgoratz, Hazel Henderson and Judith Rodin suggests that the field of impact investing will be more gender-balanced than was the case with traditional, male-dominated finance. A recent study demonstrates the value of “multilingual” leadership teams, signalling that diversity and collaboration may be the strongest model for impact leadership. All this is good news for women working in impact.

Yet the sector is young; there’s still far to go before it’s firmly established. As impact moves into a consolidation phase, how can female impact finance professionals (including fund managers, executives and board members) improve their performance and make more of a difference? Findings from a National Council for Research on Women report on women fund managers in traditional finance suggest some practical steps women in impact could; and probably should; take to make the most of their professional lives.

1. Recognize the need to mobilize all available talent. The world faces major challenges: food scarcity, health crises, depletion of natural resources, habitat loss, climate change; all areas impact investing targets. We must draw on the expertise and talent of women as well as men in order to find; and, in the case of impact investing funds, to finance; innovative solutions.

2. Strive for a “critical mass” of women in top jobs. Research in related fields has shown that a critical mass of women in leadership roles changes the dynamics, decision-making and culture of organizations for the better. Impact funds should strive for broadly representative gender mix at the executive, officer and board levels. In the longer term, the impact industry needs to determine what a critical mass of women should look like; and create quantifiable criteria, benchmarks and guidelines for bringing more women into the field. This may be a task for a group of industry leaders, or possibly an organization (not yet formed) for women impact investing professionals similar to Women in Banking and Finance or Women in Finance.

3. Build and expand professional networks.
Traditional finance now boasts a number of female-centered networking organizations including 85 Broads and Golden Seeds. Similarly, female philanthropists have the Women Donors Network and Women Moving Millions. It’s about time female impact professionals had one or more such professional body to support career development, provide mentoring, encourage peer support and facilitate learning. Opening more male-dominated impact networks to women, and inviting more men to participate in women’s networks, have been found to strengthen gender equity in other fields.

4. Promote female fund managers and woman-centered portfolios. Funds can do more to identify and promote successful female fund managers and woman-centered (or gender lens-based) portfolios. Funds should promote both to investors, highlighting research that shows that funds and businesses managed by women perform as well as those run by men when the playing fields are level. Impact investment portfolios aimed at women beneficiaries offer clients an added dimension of benefit. Reaching out specifically to female investors, as the group High Water Women does, is another way to find synergies between investors, female fund managers and portfolios centered on women.

5. Gather and share data on women in impact. Quantifying impact; and sharing fund performance information; are already central principles for the impact sector. Yet, apart from some findings included in ImpactAssets50, there is so far little information on the representation of women in top impact finance and leadership roles. Tracking, monitoring and reporting information about the gender makeup of impact funds will help develop the sector. On another level, collecting information about the performance of women impact executives, fund managers and women-focussed funds will clarify the contribution made to the sector by women; and provide information to improve career development and participation.

6. Nurture the next generation of female impact leaders.
Woman impact professionals need to reach out to the next generation of young female leaders. This means mapping the career path for women in impact, then actively encouraging girls in elementary, high school and higher education to pursue subjects, such as economics, math and business, that make it possible for them to succeed. Shining a light on successful women in the field and using the media to make impact careers more visible to young people have both been shown to increase interest. Mentoring, coaching and providing educational opportunities such as boot camps and internships, are effective, too.

7. Support and fund research. Research may not be a top priority for busy impact investing professionals, but it’s essential for the development of the impact sector; and for the successful participation of women in it. The current buzz around investing in women is in many ways the fruit of research and this should be a lesson for the community of female impact professionals. Research has the power to shape sector development; but research doesn’t happen on its own. Someone (could it be us?) needs to help identify research needs, fund the work and disseminate the findings. Women impact professionals need to step up to this challenge, just as women in other fields have done before them.

Conclusion

Impact investing has always held itself apart from traditional finance, pointing to the ethics, values and commitment to benefit that distinguish the impact movement. Yet as the sector grows and evolves, women impact professionals will confront some of the same challenges faced by their sisters in traditional finance. If they want to lead from the front; and research suggests it’s best for everyone if they do; then they will have to build networks, hone skills and cultivate the career self-awareness that characterizes true professionals in every field.

The impact investing sector supports women in many different ways. Now there’s a chance for it to demonstrate its support for the professional women who make impact happen.

[Image credit: mfrissen, Flickr]

View Women’s empowerment impact deals.

Weekly Deals: Empowering Women

Empowering women250

This week’s spotlight deals focus on Women’s empowerment.
A recent report explored the problems of under-investment in women-led small and growing businesses and found that there is a gap in financing available. The finance that does exist is especially difficult for women to access. On the other hand, impact investors have an opportunity to support women-led businesses, but they often lack information and access to quality deals.

Three of the latest deals from our Women’s Empowerment sector show that opportunities do exist, if you know where to look for them:

DEAL D000482 – LOCATION: GUATEMALA

Indigenous women may have experience in entrepreneurial activities such as handicrafts, but they have historically been excluded from bank credit. This often limits their possibilities of growth due to lack of working and investment capital. This project links indigenous women to working capital credit and markets in the Guatemala region in order to promote production and commercialization of handicrafts and other economic activities. The project uses a validated credit methodology used for more than 10 years in the local Credit Union, to establish a revolving credit fund to provide the women with credit at market rates.

This project is currently seeking strategic partnerships and an investment of $ 150,000.

DEAL D000404 – LOCATION: COLOMBIA

This company manufactures exotic sauces and vinaigrettes utilizing only locally sourced, native Colombian ingredients. The business sources all of its ingredients from a local network of approximately 100 smallholder farmers. The company employs primarily women, currently having a direct impact on 15 local families. They are now looking to expand their operations with the goal of further increasing their impact on the local community.

The company is currently seeking investment of $ 500.000 to $ 650.000.

DEAL D000331 – LOCATION: INDIA

This organization facilitates awareness, assistance and entrepreneurship in a manner that will not only provide support to women but ensures a sustained and self-aided livelihood in cash or kind. The organization has created a livestock exchange model. Women first pay an annual membership fee of Rs. 1500, based on which every woman is given a goat and a lamb, totaling to a worth of Rs. 15,000. The woman also agrees to give back half the number of young produced by her animals every year for three years. These kids and lambs are collected at the goat farm, where they are bred for further loaning or sale in the market, continuing the cycle.

For every goat or lamb owned by a member of the group, the equivalent value of money can be loaned at any given moment in exchange for the livestock. This means that the goats function as a ready cash exchange for the women. The project has the opportunity for further scalability through an online platform. Online, individuals can raise money, adopt a goat or lamb and see the progress and social development of the women and their families. In return, the amount raised is returned with interest.

This project is currently seeking investment of $ 55.000.

To explore other Women’s Empowerment deals, log in to Maximpact. Not a member? Register now.

Interested in the latest Women’s empowerment sector resources? Access them through the Newsstand.

[Image credit:123rf]

Inspirational Summer Reads from Maximpacts Newsstand

post-featured-newsstandBringing you the latest in impact sector resources.

CleanTech Nation From Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder, the authors of Clean Tech Revolution, comes the next definitive book on the clean tech industry. Clean Tech Nation shines a light on the leaders at the forefront of a growing movement. USA Today called Pernick and Wilder’s groundbreaking first book, “one of the few instances in this genre that shows the green movement not in heart string terms but as economically profitable.” Clean Tech Nation expands on their original idea to provide concrete analysis on the efforts of the U.S. and other countries in this area, and provides a clear way forward for the U.S. so that it can lead the pack as it competes with the rest of the world.

Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet Islam calls believers to praise the Creator, take care of each other, and take care of the planet. But the deep and long-standing convergences between Muslim beliefs and environmentalism aren’t widely known by other religions, in secular society, or even among many Muslims. In this groundbreaking book, author and Muslim community organizer Ibrahim Abdul-Matin brings us the first book to show how strongly the tenants of Islam support and promote environmentalism. With dozens of examples of what Muslims can do; and are already doing; to promote ecologically sound practices in their communities, Green Deen draws on scripture, research, and viewpoints of Muslim scholars and community leaders to trace Islam’s historical and contemporary preoccupation with humankind’s collective role as stewards of the Earth.

The Future Makers Searching for sense and meaning in your work? Want to be successful but expect fulfillment, not just a salary? In this inspirational new book, impact thought-leaders Wolfgang Hafenmayer, managing partner of LGT Philanthropy, and Joanna Hafenmayer Stefanska, managing director of MyImpact, offer 23 encouraging responses to those questions. From an American financial market specialist to a group of tree planters in Africa; from Japanese environmental experts to dancers in Argentina, The Future Makers tells the stories of people who are making the world a better, more beautiful and livable place for current and coming generations. The book is also a practical toolkit with guidance on how you can too can become a future maker, forging a satisfying career that has a positive impact on the world.

Biomimicry:Innovation Inspired by Nature If you haven’t read this groundbreaking book by the person responsible for bringing biomimicry into the public sphere, you’ve missed out. Biomimic scientists are revolutionizing how we invent, compute, heal ourselves, harness energy, repair the environment, and feed the world: biomimicry is driving green and sustainable innovation. Biologist, science writer and founder of the influential Biomimicry3.8, Janine Benyus names and explains this phenomenon. She takes us into the lab and out in the field with cutting-edge researchers as they stir vats of proteins to unleash their computing power; analyxe how electrons zipping around a leaf cell convert sunlight into fuel in trillionths of a second; discover miracle drugs by watching what chimps eat when they’re sick; study the hardy prairie as a model for low-maintenance agriculture; and more. Eye-opening.

For more, login to Maximpact and navigate to Newsstand.

WOMEN IN IMPACT – MAVIA ADVISORY PROFILE

MAXIMPACT CATCHES UP WITH NEW ADVISORY FIRM – MAVIA PASSION FOR IMPACT LLC

 

Tell us more – what is mavia?

mavia is a social finance and philanthropy advisory firm based in Zurich.

We strive to increase positive impact for our clients and their beneficiaries by creating transparency and bridging the gap between people wanting to engage in positive change and adequate, high quality investment and philanthropy opportunities for impact.

We offer our clients independent, personal and professional advice in strategic philanthropy by creating strong and trusted relationships with them as well as with our network partners. In this way we ensure consistent mission alignment from planning the whole way through to implementation of a personal philanthropy journey.

Who is the typical mavia client?

There is no such thing as “the typical mavia client”. Our clients are as diverse as people can be – each one with different motivations, values and needs. We deliberately chose to have a diverse advisory board, to represent that kind of individuality with different cultures, religions, interests and background. What our clients have in common though, is that they are all personalities looking for opportunities to make a real difference through philanthropy or social investments. They all have a “Passion for Impact” that drives their decisions and engagements.

Can you give an example of a mavia engagement?

One of our clients is a medium size foundation based in Switzerland. The foundation supports projects in Switzerland through traditional grant giving according to its mission and thematic focus. Together we are working out a strategy on how to include impact investing in the existing activities. This decision influences a foundation on different levels, from service offering, to internal know-how but also culture. It is very important to ensure that change is introduced gradually and in line with the foundation’s mission. The first impact investment with our client is planned in the next 12 months; a great opportunity to learn together and go new and innovative ways.

Another example is an institutional client in the financial services industry. Our client is interested in adding philanthropy to the existing service offering, for reasons of client retention, business development and corporate responsibility. We advised to base decisions regarding additional services on insights from a client survey instead of setting something up and risking to miss the target. In this case we collaborate with a partner, who is specialized in conducting surveys to measure and evaluate “soft” factors. This way the client has a meaningful data set as a basis for his decisions about additional products and services, which make sense to be set up in the future.

Last but not least we are working with a wealthy private client who is not new to charity but rather new to strategic philanthropy and wants to include the next generation in this process. As we work on the Philanthropy Canvas, an easy and straight forward working tool developed by mavia and inspired by BusinessModelGeneration.com, we talk about basic values and interests that drive many money related decisions. This is a great opportunity to understand the other one’s views and needs. The outcome here is not necessarily family philanthropy, it can be of course, but it is also possible to have separate engagements and to exchange experiences and learning within the family on a regular basis. One of our clients once said: “I don’t see the need for everybody in the family to be involved in everything. Because not everybody has the same skills and time and quite frankly you can end up making things far too complicated when you have to consider everybody’s interests, commitment and agenda.”

What makes mavia different?

We give honest and direct advice at any time. In everything we do we try to foster clarity and simplify rather than making things more complicated. We believe that this leads to more joy and fulfillment for our clients, who then again choose to engage in philanthropy for the long term and this increases positive impact.

For us it’s about transforming good intention into a meaningful journey for our clients and to be part of the success story of philanthropy. A story of positive change and growth, that leaves us with a smile on our faces.

Enjoy your impact journey and engage!