Impact Investing and Gender Lens Investing in Canada

Marigold Capital

1. No Poverty 3. Good Health and Well-Being 5. Gender Equality 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth Flourish Prize Finalist - For Business as an Agent of World Benefit - Weatherhead School of Management

Overview

Marigold Capital offers customized “strategic consulting and fund management in the private-market impact investing space, with a focus on social justice in domestic, emerging, and frontier markets.” When possible, the firm applies the gender lens to the investment process. Gender lens investing aims to revalue and empower women, whether through funding female entrepreneurs or creating gender equity in senior positions. It also means investing in products that are devised by women, for women. Overall, the idea is to increase women’s purchasing power and involvement in formal and informal economic processes.

Marigold aims to use the gender equity-driven model as the foundation for supporting any group of individuals that are marginalized or disadvantaged. Areas in which Jonathan hopes to create diversity and inclusivity range from financial inclusion and reproductive health to education, food security, and responsible procurement.

Finance is not an intuitive tool to create systematic change, however, it is underestimated in its power. Strategic investments are able to shift norms, perspectives and methods; as well remove structural barriers and empower individuals to participate and benefit throughout society. Marigold invests by utilizing the gender and inclusivity lens for equitable and prosperous social change.

“Marigold Capital is named after the Marigold Flower. While it was historically offered as a sacrifice to many gods, the marigold is known for its power to resurrect despite being connected to despair and grief. The marigold flower reminds us that as impact investors we must stand on the shoulders of our ancestors to make the world a better place for our children. And, we can do so with style, colour, and a dash of kitsch.”

Author

Laraib Arshad

Laraib Arshad

School

York University- Schulich School of Business

York University- Schulich School of Business

Professor

Charles Cho

Charles Cho

Innovation

Marigold’s Proposition

Marigold helps private investors reach their goals in three ways:

1. Developing the strategy

2. Executing the strategy (outsourced investment management)

3. Managing the funds

Marigold prepares stakeholder consultations and market research to create or evaluate a strategic plan that will help meet financial and impact goals. This strategy then allows the client to consider results, determine movements, develop metrics and frameworks, investment criteria, diligence processes, governance structures, etc. with the help of Marigold. As the framework is established, the client can then consider the market and organizations that can deliver on their targets.

Marigold subsequently develops customized investment management solutions for its clients throughout the entire life-cycle of a portfolio. Once an investment has been selected, Marigold negotiates and completes the transaction, and disburses the funds to social enterprises. It also supports them with risk management plans, impact monitoring and support services, and portfolio analysis and management.

Lastly, collective impact can create a greater effect on the social issue. Marigold also identifies potential partners; creates the shared governance and structures; recruits’ investment committee and advisory board; and manages the entire investment cycle.

The dynamic team of two has placed nearly $25 million dollars and managed over $100 million dollars while reviewing more than 2,000 social enterprises and 400 funds globally since 2010.

Impact Investing and Gender Lens Investing in Canada

Inspiration

The birth of Marigold Capital was influenced by a mix of personal and professional experiences. Jonathan, the founder, at a glance might not fit the trailblazer profile, however, his early exposure to the gender lens and his impressive resume make him the ideal candidate. Raised by an immigrant single mother who worked on factory floors, Jonathan was able to see the lack of opportunities that exist for certain groups. Despite the barriers, Jonathan’s mother was able to provide him with many opportunities and instill the importance of resilience, perseverance and grit. He also cites his role as a father and husband for continuously holding him accountable to higher standards. Observant of his journey, Jonathan has reserved his professional roles to fighting social issues.

Jonathan Hera is one of Canada’s leading impact investors who began his journey in asset management where the focus was on the growing needs of the rising middle class, while also having a significant positive impact on social communities (‘Sarona Asset Management’). From working in emerging and frontier markets, he transitioned to managing RBC’s impact investment fund (the ‘Generator’). His last role as an employee, was being an investment director at a ‘base of the pyramid’ global health innovation portfolio funded by the Government of Canada (‘Grand Challenges Canada’). In addition to corporate roles, Jonathan is a course director of social purpose investing and finance at the Schulich School of Business.

Jonathan believes that a better understanding of the deep structural issues and biases around gender and the myriad intersectionalities we all live with is one essential way for us to be more intentional investors that use finance for social change. Throughout his career, Jonathan encountered numerous founders that were pursuing their dreams while assisting others. His different roles allowed him to learn about social entrepreneurship and spot emerging opportunities. Marigold is the pursuit of merging together many of the opportunities they saw and lessons they continue to learn. Jonathan hopes that the interest in gender equality will increase inclusivity opportunities via age, mobility, immigration, race, religion, and ethnicity. His vast knowledge and experience of supporting clients through the entire investment cycle along with his strategic and tactical skills, make him beyond qualified to disrupt the financial world for a systems level impact.

“To use all that I can to help us all along. To proceed with dogged persistence. To cultivate internal and external worlds. To believe that anything is possible with longitudinal effort and the support of great people.”

Overall impact

Impact investing remains a relatively new industry in Canada; most firms including robo-advising attempt to create a portfolio which can balance returns and impact but with a general lens. Marigold is branching from this and testing new waters to create a greater presence. The high-level service of a customized portfolio is scarce in traditional investing, hence, this platform makes investing not only attractive for impact reasons but also because of the personal experience. Marigold works hard to apply a gender lens to investments and to play an active role in the development of its investees.

Marigold is currently working with two companies where the application of gender equity is showing strong returns. Although the firm provides the greatest solutions for investors considering they assist in selecting the portfolio, managing, and arranging further impact, it makes a greater difference for the social enterprises. Funding remains an issue for a majority of the companies, however, socially responsible companies face some of the greatest challenges. The discussion around impact remains small compared to profits and returns, but this is changing over time. Social enterprises may not always produce the same returns as their non-socially responsible counter-part but their contribution to society or environment are superior and long-term. For these firms to receive funding and opportunities to work with experienced individuals makes a significant affect to their operations. The impact that Marigold is creating is that it is generating more attention to social companies and attempting to bring the investing on par with traditional.

Business benefit

Marigold is able to provide capital and supporting resources to social companies that are overlooked in traditional investing. It is also able to act as an intermediary for individuals and companies that are seeking to responsibly invest in a customized portfolio but lack the resources and knowledge to pursue their goals. With this model, Marigold Capital is bringing attention and funding to untapped or lowly tapped areas of business which creates new opportunities for both parties. Marigold is continuously looking for opportunities which could help create a diverse and inclusive economy. To further its involvement, Marigold is currently seeking out early growth stage companies to be part of their own private impact investment product. They are in “search for organizations with innovative business models and products or services that address systemic biases and social barriers in social issues rather than environmental. Jonathan has extensive experience in the industry, and Marigold allows him to work with various innovators worldwide to address the gaps they encountered in social finance. Marigold offers its funders aligned and leveraged philanthropy and investing, improved liquidity and timelines, increased ROI and IRR, and lower fees.

Social and environmental benefit

Investing in marginalized and disadvantaged individuals means investing into the future. These groups are able to bring a new perspective and solutions to problems that are often overlooked. Focusing just on women, in 2013, women-owned ventures accounted for just 16% of all businesses seeking funding, and only 24% of the companies received angel investment, according to the Center for Venture Research. Minority women are the least represented, in the tech workforce, 1% comprised of Hispanic women in 2012, compared to 3% African American women and 4% Asian women, according to National Center for Women in IT. However, a research by Dow Jones reported that 61% of start-ups with five or more females were successful and only 39% failed. These statistics cover the shallow end of this issue and is an example of the types of problems individuals that are not white, heterosexual, male from a middle to upper-class family face. ‘Minority’ groups are able to design products and services that cater to their groups which are continuously accounting for a larger demographic. As the baby boomer wealth shifts to millennials, Jonathan believes that social purpose business will shift to just regular business and impact investing will shift to regular investing. This change means that impact will be associated with everything and all firms will hire a greater diverse and inclusive workforce to represent the shifting demographics; Marigold Capital hopes to be a key player in this movement.

Interview

Jonathan Hera, Founder and Managing Partner

Photo of interviewee

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Marigold Capital

Marigold Capital

Toronto, ON, CA

Business Website: https://marigold-capital.com

Year Founded: 2016

Number of Employees: 2 to 10

“Impact investing & gender lens investing strategies, execution & management for private market funders”

“Our mission is to create a more prosperous society, enabled by diversity and inclusivity.”