$100,000 Available for Students with Innovative Ideas

ag innovationsAre you a student with an innovative idea on how to improve the food system?  Check out the newly formed Agricultural Innovation Prize for a chance to win a $100,000 prize to implement your idea.  The competition is seeking students from across disciplines and the country that have a plan to improve the quality of life for people around the world.

There is a total of $215,000 in prize money.  In addition to the grand prize of $100,000, there are four $25,000 runner up prizes and a $15,000 prize that is selected by the audience. The program is also seeking student ambassadors who will be paid $1,000 for their assistance in raising local awareness about the competition.

Good luck!

Why I Invest In Slow Money: Shared Value(s)

bertAs a Slow Money NW Business Advisor and a member of the Management Committee, I’m spending a fair bit of time lately thinking about Slow Money and why I invest both my time and money to further its vision of a healthy and just regional food system.

What is ‘Slow Money’? It is just that. We need to slow money down. Bring it back to earth, and put it to work solving problems instead of trying to maximize our return by investing in who-knows-who doing god-knows-what and ultimately lining the pockets of bankers in the process.  Trading in the secondary market, which is basically what you’re doing when you’re investing in the stock market, has very little effect on creating jobs and building community. Further, as Michael Shuman points out in Local Dollars, Local Sense, the historical returns of Wall Street have been less than what people believe, typically between 3-5%.

Environmental and social problems abound.  A Yes! Magazine article by Robert Jensen published earlier this year pointed out that on every crucial measure of health of the ecosphere, we are failing. As the father of two small children, I am compelled to align my actions and my money to change this downward trend.

One of the obvious solutions lies in sustainable agriculture. It’s remarkable that sustainable agriculture and a resilient food economy don’t get more attention.  If done right, sustainable agriculture can strengthen our communities, provide healthy food, build soil, reduce environmental impact and create local jobs.

Unfortunately as our system currently exists, many small to medium sized farmers in WA state and across the nation can’t make a living at what they’re doing and have to rely on off farm income.  Think about that for a second.  Isn’t there something extremely perverse about the fact that the people we rely on for food aren’t adequately compensated?

I believe my investment money should be actively working to improve our planet and should reflect the same values I strive to live.  Beyond other options that simply allow me to screen out stocks, working with Slow Money enables me to proactively seek out entrepreneurs whose businesses are helping to create the kind of world I want to live in and to develop a relationship with them.

Ultimately this intersection between finance and local food is a big leverage point for change.  By improving the ability of local farmers and food producers to be successful, we can build community, enable access to better food, and reverse some of the environmental degradation. Figuring out how to do this is going to require hard work, persistence, and innovative financial solutions, such as the ones we are pursuing at Slow Money Northwest.

Bert is a professor at Bainbridge Graduate Institute and has a Ph.D. in Quantitative Ecology and Resource Management from the University of Washington. He is a member of the Slow Money Management Committee and is an advisor with the Business Advisory Program.  Previously he was a founder and Chief Technical Officer of ID Systems, an RFID company focused on high value assets.


Impact Investing Reception this Wednesday (12/5) in Seattle

Join us for a gathering of impact investing professionals, social entrepreneurs, and all others who believe in catalyzing investment capital for environmental, social, and financial impact.  Tim Freundlich and Jed Emerson of ImpactAssets will be visiting from San Francisco and will join in conversation with Social Venture Partners and local Seattle organizations in the impact investing field for a brief program, followed by plenty of time for mingling.

6:00-6:30 Arrival, networking

6:30-7:45 Jed Emerson and local Seattle impact organizations will discuss the spectrum and growth of impact investing, supported by tangible examples.  This group will represent and share perspectives across the ecosystem of investors, entrepreneurs, and fund managers working to increase the flow of capital towards impact. Introduction by Tim Freundlich, ImpactAssets, and Paul Shoemaker, SVP Seattle.

This event is geared toward a general interest audience that includes anyone who wants their money to have a positive impact in the world, whether you are an accredited investor or just want to move your money.  We look forward to seeing you this Wednesday and celebrating another great season of change.