Love your neighbor and embrace the strangerSeptember 2, 2021 Category: Featured, Long, Purpose
DisclosuresThis guest column was previously published by ImpactPHL Perspectives, and is reprinted with permission. It was written by Amanda Joseph, director of faith-based initiatives for Calvert Impact Capital.
In Leviticus 19:18, we are commanded to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Soon after we read, “The strangers who reside with you shall be to you as your own citizens; you shall love the stranger as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Lev. 19:33-34).
When we look beyond the socially constructed and restrictive barriers of race, class, faith, and gender, we may at first see the stranger, then we recognize our neighbor, and verily, we also see ourselves. By embracing the diversity of our communities, seeing ourselves in the “other,” we open ourselves to possibility, abundance, hope, and opportunity for people, planet, and all of creation.
During this past year of great upheaval amidst global pandemic, climate crisis, and moral awakening, many faith driven investors have asked these questions over and over again: Where can I invest my money so that my neighbors, my community, the stranger — so that those in need and in deep crisis, and those disenfranchised by entrenched systems of discrimination, systemic racism, and disempowerment, can also thrive and partake in an abundant future? Where can my investments support a world that benefits people and planet, rather than create harm? How can the decisions I make today about my portfolio create a sustainable and just future for my children’s children—and for my neighbor’s children’s children as well.
Faith driven investors are stewards of their resources and those of the communities they support, serve, and lead. The prospect of embracing diversity and equity in approaches to investing offers us profound opportunities for positive impact.
At Calvert Impact Capital, we have been investing with an explicit commitment to justice and equity — in the US and globally — for more than 25 years. Our mission is deeply rooted in addressing structural inequities, channeling capital to communities traditionally excluded from our financial system, particularly low-income communities, women, and communities of color. This is a key reason for why, in 2020, we signed the Racial Justice Investor Pledge, an initiative led by institutional faith investors, that includes both faith and secular signatories. Our approach is supported by our investor community: 26% state gender equity is a top concern; 36% state racial justice and equity is a top concern; and 70% are more interested in investing to support racial equity since spring 2020.
From our Partners
Faith driven investors have been our partners since our earliest days, and today include congregations, churches, health care systems, mutual funds, and foundations, and span denominations and affiliations — Catholic, Baptist, Evangelical, Mennonite, Jewish, Unitarian, Methodist, and many others. Here at Calvert Impact Capital we seek out portfolio partners who share these commitments to diversity and equity, expressed not only through who they lend to, but also how their management and leadership reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.
A few examples from our portfolio that embody this commitment include:
- Benefit Chicago is a $100 million collaboration by The Chicago Community Trust, the MacArthur Foundation, and Calvert Impact Capital to finance nonprofits and social enterprises in Chicago, like Autonomy Works that provides meaningful employment for adults with autism and Sweet Beginnings that provides job training to residents who were formerly incarcerated.
- Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC) helps migrants, seniors, refugees, and other low-income people in the Southwest US achieve self-sufficiency through access to quality housing, healthcare, education, jobs, and political representation.
- VisionFund International is a Christian microfinance network providing small loans and other services to families struggling with poverty in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe.
- Volunteers of America is a national faith-based organization providing comprehensive services to the elderly, veterans, homeless, people with disabilities, and those recovering from addiction.
- Through regionally-based COVID recovery efforts and cross-sector partnerships (across state and local governments, banks, corporations, foundations), we are working with local community development financial institutions (CDFIs) to provide critical capital to small businesses and nonprofits, especially those operating in low-income and harder to reach communities, often run by people of color and women. These efforts are working to ensure a more equitable and inclusive recovery. These funds are active in New York State, Washington State, California, and another reaching across 15 southern states.
Calvert Impact Capital considers diversity in all its forms, including gender equity, and we have been providing research and guidance to investors on gender lens investing. We know from our own lending and research that gender equity is not just good for women—it is good for investment, for business, and for society. When women are valued, they have more power and influence over the broader economy, and better investments are made. We seek gender equity across our portfolio, for example, a solar finance business that not only impacts the lives of women and girls by providing energy access in their homes, but also encourages gender diversity across the workforce; and a fund in the Middle East and North Africa that focuses on lending products for underbanked women entrepreneurs.
As it relates to diversity, at Calvert Impact Capital, that starts with the diversity of our own staff and extends to how we build our portfolio, and ultimately the impact we measure in communities. Both the percentage of our staff and the end clients we reach is currently 71% women. As for racial diversity, 64% of our portfolio’s clients, on average, are people of color, and more than 50% of our portfolio partners’ staff, leadership, and boards are also people of color.
Over the past year, in our many conversations with financial advisors and investors—both secular and faith-driven—we’ve been asked how investments can be used to support Black, brown, and women-led small businesses, where can an investor find a community development bank or credit union, or how do we identify funds (across asset classes) that focus explicitly on racial, gender, and climate justice. We welcome these conversations as there are increasing opportunities to answer these calls, and so much more, with one’s investments.
As communities of faith and stewards of these resources, may faith-driven investors transcend the hesitation to consider the implications of their investments, locally and globally, and instead celebrate the opportunity that investing for positive impact, aligned with one’s values, presents. Let us commit to investing with purpose and mobilizing our abundance to create change. And through these choices, we can greet and embrace the stranger, love and support our neighbors, as we would hope they might do for us.
Calvert Impact Capital (CIC) makes impact investable. We’ve helped more than 18,000 investors and hundreds of advisors get involved in impact investing through our Community Investment Note®, Syndications Services, and more. We are dedicated to growing the number of faith-based impact investors and expanding the impact investing community as a whole.
As part of our Faith Investor Program, we develop resources and offer training to support investors — across all faiths — and their financial professionals — along their impact investing journeys. We welcome opportunities for conversation, collaboration, and partnership. Please visit calvertimpactcapital.org/faith or email Amanda Joseph, director of faith-based initiatives directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.