Reimagining the Capital Landscape

Common Future
Common Future
Published in
3 min readAug 3, 2021

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For the last 20 years, we at Common Future have prioritized collaboration with those who have been closest to their communities and, in our belief, most proximate to the challenges our sector seeks to solve. We believe we cannot offer support purely based on technocratic models, theory and transactional relationships.

We treat people with dignity, not as digits, and understand that greed is not good, and that good should be shared. These relationships and intuition are unbelievably valuable assets that are both hard to find and unpurchasable. They are also undervalued, because if the world saw them as we do, our movement would be flush with financial resources.

So much of the impact investing or “capital for good” fields talk about tradeoff — asking, “do I have to sacrifice financial return for social impact?” And as the space has evolved to argue there is no tradeoff — “Doing well by doing good” — efforts are still grounded in this compromise. Problem is, the protagonist here is almost always the investor (or relatively better off party), not those we seek to serve. Shouldn’t this be different?
So little of the conversation focuses on the how. And the tremendous opportunity and potential that doing things better and more inclusively may have on society. Who originates ideas for new, more creative capital flows? How is the ideation and design process managed for investments? When and for how long are “those closest to the issue” empowered? What affirmative role do the, relatively, more privileged and powerful entities play in raising, structuring and deploying capital?

What if we didn’t see things as a tradeoff? Or a compromise? What if we saw the tremendous assets and potential of those most proximate to the problems as core leaders in the ownership and allocation of financial resources? To achieve racial and economic justice, we need stories and interventions with these new protagonists empowered.

This summer, we’re launching an $800,000 character-based lending fund (CBL) that was designed, from the ground up, by and for underfunded BIPOC businesses and ecosystems. We’ve set out to do this because we believe in our people. And to meet the rhetoric around a new economy, we must be biased towards empathetic action, especially when it comes to capital flows. As we launch this exciting pilot, be sure to check out our explainers and behind-the-scenes looks with our team and community:

CBL will start deploying capital this summer through our partners. We’re just getting started.

— Eric Horvath, Common Future, Director of Capital Strategies

We hope you’ll take this time to reflect with us and share what we’re doing to create a more inclusive economy. Like the stories you read? Share them with your network on social and be sure to tag @commonfutureco.

What we’re thinking about this month:

  • A few weeks ago, the Supreme Court invalidated a California rule that requires charitable organizations to disclose the names of contributors. Common Future Staff explain how this decision made it easy for donors to secretly funnel dark money.
  • Corporations have long held the idea that socially responsible business models are economically unviable. And yet, most social enterprise continues to promote the status quo. Caitlin Morelli focuses on ways corporations can build responsible enterprises.

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