Impact Investing Expands in Hawai’i

The field of impact investing, wherein investors put money into ventures with an explicit mission for triple bottom line returns of financial, social and environmental benefit, is growing at a phenomenal rate. An upcoming impact investment conference in Hawai’i scheduled for February 9th is the first of its kind on the island state, and demonstrates just how prolific the relatively new field has gotten.

177 venture funds now identify as impact investors. The field has grown 600% over the past four years and currently is estimated at about $500 Billion in assets, according to statistics cited at SOCAP 2011, perhaps Impact Investing’s premier conference and showcase.

“Impact investing recognizes that investments can pursue financial returns while also intentionally addressing social and environmental challenges,” according to Chenoa Farnsworth, Managing Director of Hawai’i Angels, an angel investor forum, in a written release. The conference in Hawai’i aims to identify some emerging trends, among them the emergence of many Hawaiian investors that describe themselves as impact investors, and to bring these folks into the same room with mission-driven entrepreneurs.

Given that the number one challenge cited by green entrepreneurs surveyed during the Green Festival in 2010 was access to capital (according to Kevin Danaher, co-founder of the Green Festivals, in a personal conversation), impact investment forums like this one can help drive the sustainable economy in a powerful way, removing the final obstacle to business expansion for many green startups.

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Photo credit Aquababe on Flickr Creative Commons

Scott Cooney, Principal of GreenBusinessOwner.com and author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill, November 2008), is also a serial ecopreneur who has started and grown several green businesses and consulted several other green startups. He co-founded the ReDirect Guide, a green business directory, in Salt Lake City, UT. He greened his home in Salt Lake City, including xeriscaping, an organic orchard, extra natural fiber insulation, a 1.8kW solar PV array, on-demand hot water, energy star appliances, and natural paints. He is a vegetarian, an avid cyclist, ultimate frisbee player, and surfer, and currently lives in the sunny Mission district of San Francisco. Scott is working on his second book, a look at microeconomics in the green sector.In June 2010, Scott launched GreenBusinessOwner.com, a sustainability consulting firm dedicated to providing solutions to common business problems by leveraging the power of the triple bottom line. Focused exclusively on small business, GBO's mission is to facilitate the creation and success of small, green businesses.