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Autumn 🍂 seems to have come quite quickly in many parts of the United States, reminding us that life is always changing. And while many parts of the world have experienced unthinkable tragedies recently, some news reports over the last few weeks have brought signs of progress and hope for those of us who believe in the power of capital to make a positive impact.

For starters, it’s clear that clean energy investments are providing a glimmer of hope for the climate. Thanks to the record-breaking deployment of climate-friendly technologies, some say we still have a path to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, according to the latest report from the International Energy Agency (IEA). Whether these predictions come to fruition or not, it is great to see these investments having an impact.

New data also shows that when companies prioritize diversity, they can boost opportunities for underrepresented groups. A recent analysis by Bloomberg News found that 94% of jobs added by the S&P 100 went to people of color in the year after 2020’s Black Lives Matter protests.

We have more stories below featuring investors and entrepreneurs who are striving to create a better world, plus an inspiring profile that shows what’s possible when one perseveres.

Perseverance Prevails
Last week, scientist Katalin Karikó, PhD, won a Nobel Prize in medicine alongside her collaborator Drew Weissman, MD, PhD, for their discoveries that led to the development of mRNA vaccines. Their research paved the way for the COVID-19 vaccines, which prevented over 3 million deaths in the US alone, according to one study.

Reading profiles of Karikó, it’s clear that she embodies the Be Fearless principle of “make failure matter.” In a Glamour article, she described how failures are the key to scientific experimentation, driving scientists to keep searching for answers.

Karikó began studying mRNA when it was largely uninteresting to the rest of the scientific community. As Vox describes, Karikó failed to get grant funding, but she persevered, hopping from lab to lab until she found a collaborator who would work with her. However, even after the pair of scientists made a key breakthrough, they struggled to get funding and publications. Their research stayed under the radar until the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

We applaud Karikó, Weissman, and other scientists who persevere in the face of challenges, and we hope that her story inspires other big thinkers with world-changing ideas.
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Finance for Farms: How Impact Investors Are Making a Difference
“Businesses in rural communities typically fall under the radar of growth-equity investors,” according to Forbes, but we’ve found several firms that see opportunity in this underserved market. Forbes highlights RuralWorks Partners, which invests in sustainable and regenerative agriculture, local and regional food systems, and the circular economy. The Black Farmer Fund provides flexible capital to farmers and food entrepreneurs who have historically faced discrimination and predatory lending practices. Also, the Stanford Social Innovation Review recently spotlighted the impact fund Kampani, which is expanding access to finance in the agri-food sector in low-income countries.
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Institutional Investors Prioritizing Impact and Sustainability

Several new studies point to growing momentum for impact and sustainable investing among institutional investors. For example, Schroders finds that most institutional investors believe sustainability and impact strategies will help achieve long-term financial returns. Meanwhile, 70% of asset owners in a Morningstar survey say environmental, social, and governance (ESG) has grown more relevant to the investment process over the past five years, and about 85% of chief investment officers surveyed by McKinsey state that ESG is an important factor in their decisions.
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Boosting Latino-Owned Businesses

Throughout Hispanic Heritage Month, we have been reflecting on the contributions and challenges faced by the nearly 5 million Latino-owned businesses in the U.S. Data shows these businesses contribute more than $800 billion to the US economy annually. Still, they are less likely than non-Latino-owned companies to be approved for large loans. While more work is needed to increase equitable access to capital, it is encouraging to see more loan support for Latino-owned businesses. Also, several prominent brands are helping level the playing field by providing grants to Hispanic entrepreneurs, including PepsiCoVerizon, and Duke Energy.
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Expanding Economic Opportunity for All
We were excited that this year’s Fortune Change the World list features several organizations working to expand economic opportunity and support inclusive entrepreneurship. That includes Mercado Libre, which provides financial services to Latin Americans that traditionally have been “unbanked” — including many small business owners. Other standouts in this category include Banco Santander, which has helped over 1 million students and entrepreneurs worldwide, and fintech company Esusu, one of the few Black-owned unicorns in the world.
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Your Passport to Impact

Want to network with like-minded investors, entrepreneurs, and executives (or just want an excuse to travel)? If so, check out Pioneer Post’s list of upcoming social enterprise and impact investing events. The next year is full of opportunities to meet and learn from experts in the field all over the world, from London to San Francisco to the Dominican Republic. In addition, you might look into Invest for Better’s Core Curriculum Circles Program, which aims to help women activate their investments in line with their values. Enrollment is open now.
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