Innovator Insights: Sean Daniel Murphy of ICA Fund Good Jobs

Last week, we had the opportunity to sit down with Sean Daniel Murphy, CEO of ICA Fund Good Jobs, to discuss inequity in the ecosystem, personal risk, and driving philosophies.

What does impact investing mean to you?

Impact investing is using capital as a tool to accelerate impact and outcomes.

What does a thriving, healthy impact investing ecosystem look like and what are the necessary ingredients for getting there?

In a healthy, thriving ecosystem, everyone has a role, knows their role, is willing to work together, and willing to be altered by collaboration. They’re also willing to be transparent and understanding. In order to create this ecosystem, people must listen, be vigilant, surface new opportunities, and be willing to be totally honest. Resources are necessary, as is a commitment to investing in innovation and new ways of being.

What resources must be in place? Who needs to be at the table?

Anybody who’s all in and puts all the chips on the table. We need to make big bets on people.

How important is recognizing the role of structural inequity in this work? In your role, how do you ensure that social justice, equity, and inclusion remain fundamental elements of social innovation?

It is absolutely critical! Recognizing the role of structural inequity is core to advancing our mission of supporting small businesses. We are vigilant with all of our key stakeholders: our team, board, advisors, and entrepreneurs.

What type of influence do you think ICA Fund Good Jobs has on the investing ecosystem?

Our influence is such that ICA accelerator has a vetted stamp of approval, or an endorsement, that can enhance a business’ (or an individual’s) social capital. I am cautiously optimistic and very hopeful that we’ll make the move toward the democratizing of investment (thanks to Title III).

It takes a broad view to see all the aspects of the landscape in which you work. How do you strengthen your panoramic view of the various types of investors/investment ready small business?

You must be relentless to the needs of small business owners. We have an approach that drives a lot of our work: keep an ear to the streets, tweets, and boardroom. We need attend to the full spectrum of stakeholders. We are constantly asking ourselves: how many jobs? Who are they created for? Who needs them?

What is your approach to coordinating capital? And more broadly, coordinating (human, financial, intellectual) resources and ensuring that they are deployed in the way that will have the greatest impact?

It’s brutal. It’s done over a long period of time. People do not intuitively work together. In terms of having the greatest impact, we must ensure the jobs we’re helping create are “good jobs.” This means good pay, good benefits, life ladders (career, social mobility, culture), and increased access.

Entrepreneurs often operate wholly in an environment of risk. How do you relate? What have you risked personally, professionally to achieve what you have today? What’s that experience been like for you?

We really took a backwards approach to our investments. When we began this work, we needed a 100% success rate. We simply could not fail. I have put everything I have into this work; it’s my whole life.

What’s your North Star (guiding vision)?

I’m very close to my family. My grandfather said, “let’s all stick together.” I also view my community as family and my work is about all of us, as a community, sticking together.

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