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Impact Investing has a whole new game

Impact InvestingYou know that guy, Jim Cramer? He’s off his rocker. He’s got a TV show called Mad Money that’s akin to MTV of the early 90’s: the cameraman appears to have forgotten his tripod and also to be completely hammered, and there’s lots of random noises, buzzes, popups, bings, boops, and, well, Cramer.

He analyzes the stock market and gives advice on who to buy and who to sell…and he calls Halliburton “King Hal”. But none of that really bothers me. I just wish that more people knew that this is not their only option for investing. The world is changing, and the investment world may be changing faster than any other field. There’s loca-vesting, where people can set up local stock exchanges and do other locally-based investments that help stimulate economic development where they live. There’s crowdfunding. There’s even Victory Bonds for Clean Energy (well, this hasn’t passed yet, but it hopefully will soon). For a pile more Inspiring ideas on investing, check out our investing archive

The coolest investment animal that has emerged in this field in recent years is known as impact investing, where individuals invest not just for financial return but for social and environmental performance as well. Mission Markets, profiled in that post I just hyperlinked, produced the first honest-to-goodness impact investment stock exchange. SOCAP, a big impact investment conference, has gotten so big that it recently turned me (ME!) down as a potential speaker, despite my obvious charms. You get the idea…Impact Investing has gone big time.

Impact Investing has a new frontier: it’s been gamified. As a player in GBO Hawaii, you’re an impact investor. You invest in things like wind farms and geothermal plants, community supported agriculture and local sourcing restaurants, ecotour operators and green hotels….even pedicab businesses and waste oil biofuels processors. The list goes on and on. The idea in the game is that you invest for triple bottom line impact. In fact, it’s the first game to quantify the triple bottom line impact of investments, and if you outfox other players during the game, you might just be able to offset more dumptrucks of waste than they do. But the game is not for kids–don’t let the dumptrucks and barrels of oil and cans of processed “FOOD” you’re offsetting with your investments fool you. There are very heady public policy cards that come into play, as well as Chance Cards that you can use strategically to optimize your investments, like this:

The game is available as a card game or a 2-in-1 card and board game. It features elements of nature in one of the most picturesque settings in the world.

For teachers, there are downloadable lesson plans to help teach sustainability in your classroom.

If we had just had this game instead of Monopoly growing up, I believe we would never have had the greed that led to the financial meltdown of 2008!


Written by Scott Cooney

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride.


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