The Slow Money concept was developed by Woody Tasch, chairman of the US Investors’ Circle, taking inspiration from the Slow Food movement. Tasch visited the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy this week to discuss the development of Slow Money projects in the US. He has also written a book on the topic which will be published later in the year.
In Tasch’s view, the problems we face today concerning soil fertility, biodiversity and food quality are not primarily of technology, but rather of finance. Venture capital and other ‘fast’ money investments are expected to return a profit quickly, but are rarely invested long enough to create sustainable ventures.
‘The number of farms is down, farm size is up, the average age of farmers is up, soil erosion is up, food safety questions are up, nutrition is down, obesity is up, food miles are up and food traditions down,’ said Tasch of the effects of industrial agriculture.
Slow Money is born of recognition of disconnection between the financial market and the health of local communities. It redesigns the concept of capital as ‘ground up’ rather than market down and supports businesses that enhance biodiversity and promote local food systems.
Projects on the horizon include Slow Money Alliances, ‘I’ Foundation, Slow Money Exchange and Slow Money Investment Partners. While an alternative type of stock exchange is very speculative at this stage, there is hope that other projects will be operational very soon.
‘I’ Foundation will draw up a charter to ensure money managers invest funds in a way consistent with its aims. In the US, money managers are allowed by law and culture to invest funds as they wish – and this sometimes creates huge discrepancies.
For example, the Gates Foundation came under attack recently when it was revealed that it was investing in Nigerian oil companies responsible for social and environmental damages, whilst providing grants for health programs in the same country.
The Investors’ Circle has been operating for 15 years, and today has around 200 ‘angel’ investors who are using private capital to promote the transition to a sustainable economy. Since 1992, the Circle has facilitated a flow of over $120 million into 190 companies and small funds addressing social and environmental issues.