While there are numerous examples of the continuing “business as usual” mind-set predominating the financial markets and mainstream corporate activity, there are also increasing examples that real and viable alternatives are developing, evident in a re-orientation of capital flows and an emergent civic “conscience”. This “awakening”, in the sense that Henry David Thoreau meant, is also reflected in the increasing deployment of capital for a “blended value” of both social/ecological benefit and financial return in the real economy. There is increasing interest in actively exploring and understanding viable alternatives to our present situation. Whether ‘sustainable’ or ‘breakthrough’ capitalism’, the ‘new’ or ‘positive’ economy’, the ‘commons’, ‘solidarity’, ‘associative’ or ‘caring’ economy’, there are strong signs of a developing approach to economics that embody humanistic values and an orientation of collaboration instead of competition at all costs. Whether the B Corps, Economy for the Common Good, Gross National Happiness research or other initiatives, there are significant and viable alternatives with an holistic and contextual perspective that take a broader and deeper look at consequences and effects of our present finance economy.
Under the broad rubric of “social finance”, new forms relating to gift, loan and purchase money have been tested and developed in the last decades. The growing movement in social, or values-based banking is testimony to this trend. Other modalities bring long-term and patient investment capital together with social entrepreneurs and their projects and businesses for a leveraged impact and civil society development. Democratic possibilities- that is, (informed) citizen participation and the economy can indeed develop a productive relationship.
These “social impact” interventions, whether from the philanthropic or investment perspective, is a phenomenon that is growing rapidly in all parts of the world. It represents a form of globalized thinking that applies business strategies and thinking to initiatives that “not only do no harm, but seek to do good”. While in many respects still disparate, there is growing awareness and interest within this sector to collaborate, learn and engage collectively.
It is primarily in this area- the emerging new economy- that the Alterra Foundation is presently focussing its research, program activities and overall support. The Alterra Foundation seeks to work collaboratively to foster new insights leading to sustainable and holistic practical engagements We sorely need a practical approach to money and the economy that heals and does not harm.
We welcome your participation in this common work!