“The opposite of poverty is not wealth, the opposite of poverty is human dignity.”
In her Slush Impact keynote, Jacqueline Novogratz, the CEO and Founder of Acumen Fund, spoke avidly of the possibility of capitalism – exemplified by events like Slush, where capital finds promising entrepreneurs and technological advances.
Yet as capitalism also increases inequality and exacerbates climate change, Novogratz believes we must come up with a new model to spread the gains more evenly and to rethink the concept of ‘poverty’. And this is where investors and entrepreneurs step in.
Acumen Fund, the investment company Novogratz founded 15 years ago and continues to lead today, applies the investment principles of patient capitalism to its portfolio of for-profit companies tackling social challenges like energy poverty, clean water scarcity and inadequate health care.
Understand what you are measuring
“The opposite of poverty is not wealth, the opposite of poverty in human dignity. We don’t gain dignity by assuming that charity will take care of the poor, we gain dignity through justice, through a more just system of capitalism.”
According to Novogratz, patient capitalism and impact investing only matter if we understand what we are measuring. Typically, investors focus solely on financial returns instead of thinking of social impact returns more holistically. This would mean measuring not only financial returns, but also parameters like increase in freedom, opportunity or choice.
Reassess the principle metrics of building companies
By sharing anecdotes and stories within her portfolio, Novogratz encourages the Slush audience to think about the main metrics by which we live our lives and build our companies. Do we give more than we take out? That’s the essential building block of creating a world that understands that we do not have dignity as a human race until every human being has dignity.