Rob Moll and Rudy Carrasco:
This patient capital movement has already attracted tens of millions of dollars. Investors are driven by the opportunity to match their faith with their finances. They expect to earn a return, but to see social impact (jobs created, children in school) and spiritual fruit (families seeking prayer from chaplains and churches built). The Acumen Fund, a non-sectarian group seeking social good, defines patient capital as “a debt or equity investment in an early-stage enterprise providing low-income consumers with access to healthcare, water, housing, alternative energy, or agricultural inputs.” The Christian funds also seek some kind of spiritual return on investments of less than $2.5 million.
Andreas Witmer, a former member of the Pope’s Swiss Guard, began studying Catholic theology and the free market economy after one of his own investments turned bad. Witmer is now launching a debt fund and has served as a kind of personal think tank for the movement. He’s the author of The CEO and the Pope: John Paul II’s Leadership Lessons to a Young Swiss Guard. Despite his early questions, he has now determined that “business done in a virtuous way is a core constituent of prosperity.”
Partners Worldwide Entrepreneurs is one such investment fund. It is a sister organization of Partners Worldwide, where I (Rudy) work and which seeks to connect business leaders in the U.S. with entrepreneurs overseas. With $1.2 million invested in India, Southern Africa, and the Philippines, our fund invests in businesses like Dignity Coconut. Dignity Coconut employs 50 Filipinos in a coconut processing plant that produces fresh coconut products for world markets. The business began when a Filipina school director asked a visiting U.S. business executive to connect her students to the global economy….
Henry Kaestner, cofounder of Bandwidth.com, which works with companies like Skype to place calls, is joining the Christian investing movement. He took a slightly different approach when he launched Sovereign’s Capital Fund. His goal is to finance Christian-owned businesses in order to enable them to include Christian aims—such as missionary work—that traditional lenders wouldn’t finance. Kaestner, who was never able to attract investors to Bandwidth.com during its startup phase, is eager to do for others what no one did for him. His fund is investing $40 million, split between both domestic and international businesses.