4 Ways to Get Started with Impact Investments

If you haven't figured it out by now, sustainable, responsible and impact investments are truly the future. The old ways of Wall Street appear to be melting away as more investors are looking to be active in the selection of their selections of retirement funds and their impact on society. While sustainability is nice (and important) many more investors are seeking broader societal impact by putting investments into companies that will make a difference, rather than just making a donation.

While it may seem daunting, it's actually surprisingly easy to get into impact investing, specifically. However, it does require a little extra research on the part of the investor in order to really make a difference. Below are four areas that will help you get started with impact investing, and you can learn more about these areas and apps mentioned by visiting Investopedia's site by CLICKING HERE.

1. Impact Mutual Funds

Perhaps the easiest way to start impact investing is to buy shares of a mutual fund. You can find mutual funds that promote social and environmental responsibility. Companies such as EarthFolio will help you find these funds.

Once you buy shares, you make money from dividends or capital growth, just like you would with other mutual funds. The difference is that the fund only engages in impact investing. These funds typically don’t focus on one sector like energy or agriculture. Instead, they search across all sectors to find social and environmentally responsible companies where you can invest.

2. Energy Efficiency

Investing in energy doesn’t have to mean buying stock in a large oil company. If you want to keep things simple, you can buy shares of an exchange-traded fund (ETF) in the alternative energy space.

Some organizations help you find energy projects that are renewable and responsible and are looking for investment capital or to issue bonds. You get a return on your investment while helping companies produce clean energy. As an example, a company called Mosaic Inc. will connect you to a solar project. You actually buy a part of a solar enterprise. Mosaic checks out the company thoroughly to make sure it is a viable firm. You won’t get filthy rich at the 4.5% to 6% interest rates the loans earn, but you will make money while supporting solar energy.

You can go bigger by purchasing bonds from Warren Buffett. His MidAmerican Energy company has bonds that earn 5.375% interest. The purpose of the bonds is to pay for some of the cost of the Topaz Solar Farm in San Luis Obispo, California. Fun fact.

3. Sustainable Agriculture

Impact investing in agriculture is focused on finding local growers who sell directly to customers without over-processing the food. Local growers need money from time-to-time to purchase equipment, land and materials, and they seek loans.

You can invest in sustainable agriculture through organizations like Investor’s Circle. In this model, you join a national network of investors that support sustainable projects. Similar companies, such as Working Farms Capital, use investors’ money to support local farms.

There are companies such as ImpactAssets that help small growers. You can invest by buying bonds and notes that ImpactAssets issues. This is for higher-end investing, however, the minimum investment is $25,000.

4. Microfinance

You can help the working poor by making very small loans. These loans could be $25 to a few hundred dollars. The money goes to people in underdeveloped countries to help them start companies that do things like raising poultry, sewing, and selling fruits and vegetables.

Your money helps those who are trying to find a way to survive in countries where survival is far from a guarantee. Their seemingly small enterprises could feed their family in areas where jobs are scarce and opportunities are limited.

You don’t have to find the individuals to loan your money to. There are organizations that do that for you. Some are large and some are small, but all are dedicated to helping micro-businesses get off the ground. For example, the organization Accion works as a gateway to loans you can make to small entrepreneurs. These are true loans, so they are an investment that provides a return.

To learn more about ways to get involved with impact investing, visit Investopedia's page by CLICKING HERE.

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