Category Archives: Resilience

Branding the Regenerative Capital Fund

I like the idea of describing the thesis of the Regenerative Capital Fund as a bridge between the ideas of John Fullerton at the Capital Institute and his co author Hunter Lovins and the ideas of Morgan Simon and Andrea Armeni and her team at Transform Finance. If it works, we will be a fungible anecdote for two related, aligned but not yet actively partnering, as in making common cause, for two groups of thought leaders.  We can, if we do this well, be an example each one uses to illustrate how a fund would make use of their ideas,  as they explain to people how the world should be. We want to be one of the funds they point to as an iconic example.

My simple formulation of our thesis is we are about biodiversity meets inclusion at the corner of non extractive profits. Good Capital Holdings in investing in the General Partnership of the fund, (one of three we are investing in)in order to inform the thesis; the truth they are trying to prove and show the world. Shaun Paul is the managing director, with Ed Dugger the transaction guy and the one who has sold institutional players.

It’s really that simple. They carry our story everywhere they go. People who want to get serious about those ideas find us. We have a sidecar donor advised fund, (DAF) so the average person who can put up $5,000 can invest directly in our companies, or in us. We give them the choice; we have to validate our position as an intermediary in a transparent marketplace. We could even be paid with tips, like Kiva when they saw something good they realized we had a significant hand in.

I am thinking of ways to make our fund communal, partly owned by the community, easily, maybe through local lending clubs, which also let people put in small dollars. There is one forming here that I will be participating here. I plan to invest in Accelerating Appalachia this fund’s sister accelerator through that. I could not find a way to invest in a single seed stage company was in line with our Good Capital Holdings thesis. We are investing in horizontal ecosystem infrastructure. My continual push as I work with RegenCap is to push for the best story. Shaun and my own good sense will moderate that desire to make the story I want conform to reality. It will be fun.

Iirro Niemi and Anna Blume got us this far. I am excited to continue to work with them.

We also plan to tell this story as kind of road to SOCAP14 building the Regenerative Capital Fund reality series with this blog cross-posted on the SOCAP site. We will also open that platform to other funds which are forming.

Overall, my goal this year to light up and connect the nodes in my network, from the Impact Hubs we now own and operate in TriBeCa, Philly, San Francisco and soon DC with SOCAP and the funds and companies Good Capital Holdings (GCH) is investing in.

Bio-Cultural Resilience Tool Report

Attached is an excellent report by Darin Wahl examining the Bio-Cultural Resilience Tool from an in-depth perspective. The report focuses on the evaluation of existing impact assessment tools.

BRT Report Assessment of Tools

SOCAP Conference- Sustainability in Fisheries and Oceans using Bio-Cultural Tools

Panel

Bio-cultural tools were the main topic at one of today’s panels at SOCAP. The topic of the panel was Creating an Operating System for the Good Economy with Indigenous People. The main focus was fisheries, the ecosystems of oceans, and the indigenous people whose lives depend on the fishing industry. The excellent panel included Alloysius Attah from Farmerline in Ghana, Dune Lankard from Copper River Wild Salmon Company in Alaska, Lisa Monzon from the Packard Foundation in California, and Shaun Paul as the moderator. 

A shared interest in fostering business practices that foster conservation practices with indigenous people is what brought this panel together. The discussion focused on new collaborative approaches to catalyze business practices and investment that harness pioneering technological and social innovations that build resilience tools in relation to the fisheries industry. 

Alloysius Attah discussed how Farmerline has developed a voice-activated mobile phone tool that gives rural farmers in Ghana the opportunity to enhance access to markets, improves access to financial services, and create a high mobile phone penetration in rural households. According to Alloysius “there are more mobile phones than people in Ghana” which creates an incredible opportunity to reach every rural farmer in Ghana with this important bio-cultural tool that creates social good. Farmeline has been working with the Bio-Cultural Resilience Tool and more information on the partnership can be found here

The other tool that was discussed at the panel was traceability. In relation to the fisheries industry, how can we make sure the fish are coming from a sustainable supply-chain and not from devastated ocean resources or caught in a way that supports over-fishing? Dune Lankard is working on a solution to this problem by labeling the fish shipment boxes with a bar code and number that will bring the customer to a website that tells the story of where the fish came from, and the fishermen that caught it.  This tool will stop the mass mislabeling of fish which in turn will help prevent over-fishing. Lisa Monzon works with the major companies around the world that buy seafood (such as Wal-Mart) and has been working with these companies to change fishing policies in North America, Europe and Japan. She also works with these companies on issues such as traceability, where the focus is on supply-chains creating a sustainable fishing industry worldwide.

This panel showed that bio-cultural tools are being used at every level to build economic, social, cultural, and ecological resilience benefiting priority conservation areas with indigenous people. 

How can enterprises display resilience in periods of sudden and gradual change?

Last week, I started thinking about the topic of resilience in the midst of early-stage growth. Shaun’s post from the beginning of the week sparked my thought process around the product iteration developments coming out of Farmerline. I’ve been doing some research on existing ICT providers within agricultural technology and thinking about how Farmerline stands out. On the business side, an early stage company has to be able to prove its commercial viability. After reading the Stockholm Resilience Centre’s definition of resilience, I am thinking about Farmerline’s potential to sustain “periods of gradual and sudden change and to adapt and change shape” (What is Resilience? ).

 

In order to be successful, Farmerline wants to develop products over time that can adapt and change shape based on the needs of consumers. Right now, Farmerline’s voice technology stands out above other ICT firms working with smallholder farmers because many utilize only SMS messages which many farmers cannot read. This is a period of very dynamic change as mobile messaging apps are developing rapidly, so how can Farmerline’s processes move quickly enough to adapt while still remaining attune to the speed of development within the agricultural industry itself? By focusing both on building farmer autonomy and non-profit monitoring and evaluation, Farmerline’s technology addresses individual and collaborative ways to build the agricultural economy. It is important to address the vital impact NGOs, many of whom have been working locally for many years, can evaluate using Farmerline’s M&E capabilities.

Alloy explained to me that even if farmers have access to market prices and weather forecasts along with connections to buyers, how does that ensure they make the necessary connections to get their product to market? For this stage of the company, Farmerline primarily focuses on opening market access for smallholder farmers through easy and inexpensive communication channels as well as helping NGOs conduct monitoring and evaluation. The technology enables rapid change by speeding up communication pathways, allowing fast change now. This kind of speed may slow down when the next kind of demand for services presents itself. The widely applicable technology brings scalability to the idea, while combining a localized approach could ensure that the product could evolve and adapt based on its local context. I’m curious to hear about how others adapt during the dynamic interplay of sudden and slower change.

Putting Oceans & Fisheries on the Agenda: Accelerating Sustainability in Business for Nature in Crisis

It’s been an energizing and intense week working with project partners around the world to articulate a vision for building the Operating System for the Good Economy that begins with….building biocultural resilience for oceans and fisheries. I am sharing a summary here.

Fisheries Resilience Project Summary

Fisheries industry in Beruwela

Fisheries industry in Beruwela (Photo credit: Dhammika Heenpella / Images of Sri Lanka)

An updated powerpoint describing our accelerating biocultural resilience

I am sharing here an update to our presentation.

https://bioculturalresilience.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/accelerating-investment-in-biocultural-resilience-4-jun-13.pptx

Why biocultural resilience matters and what it can look like

It’s great to have this blog up as I am on a quest with Kevin Jones and others to accelerate business practices that restore and regenerate nature. Resilience offers a powerful frame to harness a convergence of new opportunities that I believe can allow us to greatly accelerate global sustainability and well-being.

http://www.stockholmresilience.org/21/research/what-is-resilience.html introduces what we mean by resilience. We are building from Stockholm Resilience Centre’s system’s approach to socio-ecological systems. We affirm a core value that human and environmental well-being are inter-dependent and inextricably linked.  We are working to consider the role of culture that binds people to one another, and manifests deeply in human’s material, social, and spiritual relationships with nature. Culture remains a poorly understood  dimension to well-being.

One manifestation of why this matters is the high correlation between regions with high concentrations of biodiversity and cultural integrity of Indigenous Peoples. While I am not suggesting there are ‘noble savages’, indigenous cultures have sustained biodiversity in contrast to western culture that has driven the consumption of nature to a point of planetary crisis.

In this context, we are looking at how business can be a lever for systems change with positive social and conservation outcomes. This can mean companies incorporate ecological restoration into their cost of doing business extending beyond payment for environmental services which are good but remain insufficient.

Among my most inspiring examples are companies that restore and regenerate nature. Will Raap’s work with Earth Partners removing invasive species that permits range land restoration while creating wood chips fueling an energy substitute to coal.

I am also inspired by Terracycle growing rapidly with a business proposition to eliminate the concept of waste. They have taken plastics recycling, upcycling and product redesign to a completely new level. They are delightfully disruptive but perhaps don’t best embody biocultural resilience.

I hope this blog can build upon a rather lively conversation we have been having on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BioCulturalResilienceTool providing a basis for a free flowing exchange uncovering a range of interesting resources and perspectives.

Biosphere Entrepreneurship – An Approach To Supporting Human Well-being and Ecological Resilience” reflects the work of one of our project partners that manages the Lake Vanern Biosphere Reserve in Sweden who has been diligently developing and applying a strategy to foster local business activity that contribute to the Biosphere’s conservation objectives which encompass natural, cultural, and economic dimensions.  As a non-profit, this project has also become a source of funding and constituency building. Thus, there are many benefits for non-profit conservation practitioners to adopt this approach, but it first requires value alignment which can unleash very powerful possibilities.

What can investing in biocultural resilience look like? Sweden’s Lake Vanern was restored from a highly polluted place to a healthy place for people and planet. This included identifying cultural assets and traditional knowledge that can be leveraged to build well-being for people and planet. And, this involved the non-profit biosphere manager together with local public officials convening public-private partnerships that supported actively expanding high value fish products with ancient native fishing communities – caviar for the planet!

Our project partner, Johanna MacTaggart, who is the Lake Vanern Biosphere Manager offers a translated VIP visit with native fisherfolk that offers a glimpse of what building biocultural resilience can look like.

Together, we are building innovative approaches to catalyze a way of thinking and analytical framework that uncovers poorly understood business risk and opportunity. However, we also need many others to join us including donors, protected area managers, public agencies and academia. Systems change requires many actors and we believe harnessing business can be a very powerful driver…to build the world we want.

We are building an open platform to support and encourage broad participation and engagement. We welcome ideas, learnings, and collaborations from all sectors. We welcome you to join us especially if you are committed to learning, using your voice and influence, as well as taking action.

Stay tuned for more as we turn our attention most immediately to fish, oceans and the blue economy.

Shaun Paul