I am infinitely grateful for the three years I spent on the staff of RSF Social Finance, a financial services organization that seeks to revolutionize how people relate to money. Leaving that job was one of the most difficult decision I ever made! But I was literally bursting with the book I was ready to write, so leave I did, shedding many tears in the months leading up to and following my departure.
While at RSF, I had the honor of leading the development of their Food System Transformation Fund (although it had a different name then, the Food & Agriculture PRI Fund I think?), a new loan fund supporting high-impact food businesses, funded by foundation investments. You can read more about the impulse behind that fund in Don Shaffer’s reflections on the eve of his departure after 10 years as the President and CEO of this truly unique and inspiring organization.
Whenever I’ve been called to help an organization or business or another human being launch something new, whether it’s a loan fund or a product line or an entire business, it’s strange to leave it without knowing whether that thing will succeed or not, and the projects I’ve worked on haven’t always survived. Having rarely been part of ongoing maintenance of those projects, I’ve rarely been privy to the factors determining their success or failure, but it always feels a little sad to learn that something I’ve put energy into is no more.
That the Food System Transformation Fund continues to thrive is one of my proudest professional achievements. In related news, I recently learned that my friend and former RSF colleague Ted Levinson launched another new impact lending organization, Beneficial Returns, based on that funding model we pioneered at RSF… the major difference being that Beneficial Returns focuses on loans outside of the US.
I love thinking about all the people who have benefited from all this impact investment activity, from the borrowers themselves and spreading out to their customers and clients and constituents. For every project that has ended, there is another like this that not only carries on, but continues to have an increasing influence. I suppose the important thing to focus on at any given moment is the work at hand, without being too attached to the outcome.