Building upon the unique qualities inherent in north-central New Mexico, in 2012 the Impact Network Santa Fe (IN Santa Fe) initiative was launched by the interdisciplinary design team of Regenesis, the Story of Place Institute, Santa Fe Innovation Park and a pair of local funders. Their intent was to foster the emergence of an impact investing ecosystem for growing diversified “community wealth” in the region. The project’s directors, David Breecker and Nicholas Mang, define community wealth through the “five capitals” lens, in which five forms of capital (financial, human, social, built and ecological) are grown simultaneously from each investment, without any capital being diminished over the long term. Through a collaborative process, a set of metrics is being developed to assess community-scale impact across the multiple capitals.
IN Santa Fe’s cross-sector, systemic approach was developed through a series of dialogues involving the public, private and philanthropic sectors. The participants offered several local-impact investment ideas. An organizing team was then formed to identify governing principles and next steps forward. Their intent was to establish a network of partners who could foster development of a vibrant community ecosystem for local-impact investing that could leverage social, environmental and economic benefits. Aside from building a network of potential social investors who are interested in companies that do social good as well as providing shareholder value, IN Santa Fe is helping launch business startups that engage local values and resources.
“Social entrepreneurship encompasses ideas from triple-bottom-line businesses to nonprofits, from environmentally conscious products to new sustainable methods of production,” said Sean O’Shea, program director at the Santa Fe Business Incubator and co-organizer of Santa Fe Startup Weekend. Startup Weekend is a nonprofit global network where, for 54-hours, developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams and build products. In September 2014, IN Santa Fe partnered with Santa Fe Startup Weekend to offer a social enterprise component to the intensive entrepreneurial brainstorming.
Impact Santa Fe Challenge Fellowship
IN Santa Fe’s Challenge Fellowship provides opportunities for visionary entrepreneurs from all areas of the social venture spectrum to seed their projects, learn, grow and develop their enterprises into investor-worthy businesses. Chosen by a panel of judges through a competitive challenge, the selected entrepreneurs work with a team of topical experts and resource networks to develop integrated business plans that can increase the systemic impact of their startup ventures. Beyond the five-month “challenge” period, IN Santa Fe provides ongoing networking, resource support and promotional assistance.
A “collaboratory” open-web platform to support ongoing development of innovation capacity and other relevant projects, events, information and resources is being developed. Breecker and Mang intend to make IN Santa Fe’s process and infrastructure available to other regions that may want to adopt this place-sourced impact investing model throughout New Mexico and beyond.
The first generation of IN Santa Fe’s Fellowship pilot projects:
Awesome Harvest—An innovative Santa Fe-based manufacturing company that makes recyclable, biodegradable pots for transplanting and growing plants. The pots are currently available at Costco and other retailers.
Comida de Campos— An Embudo, New Mexico, family farm, seeking to keep local farming sustainable and alive as a family tradition, is launching an innovative, farm-to-vending-machine venture that delivers fresh, healthy food products directly to work places.
Tall Foods—A new startup company that seeks to bolster sustainable ranching through farming and marketing of tasty tall foods (aka ostrich).
Wildfire Network—A nonprofit startup that is developing an innovative social entrepreneurial model for developing capacity to address the Southwest’s looming wildfire-mitigation and forest-resiliency hazards.