Author Archive

Malaika Maphalala

Welcome to my archive of newsletter articles and blog posts. For more information on my service offerings, please go to my advisor webpage.

Mission Markets advances impact investing

By Malaika Maphalala

Impact Investment , what Natural Investments has termed Regenerative Investment, is an emerging market that is becoming recognized as a new asset class in its own right.  It’s generally defined as direct investment aimed at solving social or environmental challenges while generating financial profit.  It differentiates itself within the arena of Socially Responsible Investment in that Impact Investment is proactive, direct investment in positive solution-oriented enterprise and largely separate from standard stock market investments, including mutual funds.  Impact investment is gaining attention as a key piece of the puzzle in solving social and environmental crises.  But, still in its infancy, there’s a continuing need to develop the landscape of Impact Investing on many levels.  Investors need to hear about it, understand how it works, and have a means to evaluate the myriad of opportunities in terms of both financial and social performance.  Investors, Social Finance intermediaries, and those organizations and companies doing the work of addressing critical problems in the world are working together to develop organizational capacity and build an infrastructure that can support a flow of new investment capital into this area; some estimate that up to one trillion dollars could flow into these high-impact opportunities over the next ten years.

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An exciting new arrival to the Impact Investing landscape is Mission Markets.  Mission Markets is a first-of-its-kind on-line platform connecting high net-worth individuals and institutional investors with a growing number of investment offerings from organizations and enterprises that are directly addressing social and environmental problems.  Mission Markets was founded by Michael Van Patten and Steve Rocco, both of whom have extensive expertise in traditional capital markets coupled with a passion for advancing social welfare and environmental conservation. Michael has described the turning point in his life when he realized that all the time and energy he’d devoted to financial markets on Wall Street served no meaningful value; he then turned his efforts toward creating a career path that would allow him to use his expertise to make a positive change in the world for those who really needed it.  Determined to make a difference,

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Mission Market interview with NI’s Malaika Maphalala

In a recent NI newsletter, Malaika Maphalala highlighted the great work being done by Mission Markets to link high net-worth investors with impact investments around the world.  In August, Mission Markets featured an in-depth interview with Malaika on their website, which we urge you to explore.  We’re pleased to share that with you here.

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Malaika Maphalala is a financial advisor with Natural Investments, a national SEC registered Investment Advisory firm that has specialized in exclusively socially responsible and ethical investing for over 25 years.   A lifelong advocate for social change, Malaika is driven by a passion for finding innovative approaches to bringing people and resources together to address social and environmental complexities.

Prior to her work with Natural Investments, Malaika spent 10 years in the non-profit sector as an independent consultant providing administrative, development  and program management services for numerous socially driven organizations in Hawaii and Oregon.  She was also a co-founder of Dragon’s Eye Learning Center, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that has provided ongoing programming in the arts, alternative education, and sustainable agriculture from its rural, 40+ acre farm-based site since 2001.  After transitioning to the field of finance, Malaika worked as the Business Manager for a private investment firm specializing in foreign currency trading where she worked directly with high net-worth investors and developed and managed fiscal tracking systems.  An important aspect of her work included helping the firm develop its goals to commit a portion of profits for social good.

Q: How do you define impact investment and what does it mean to you?
A: Impact investing is looking at critical issues we face as a planet, like poverty, environmental degradation, and health care for the world’s poorest people, and using the business model and investment dollars to address them directly. These are issues that have been typically addressed by governments and non-profits, both of which have barriers and limitations to addressing the scale of the problem.

Impact investing is about more and more people realizing that enterprise and market driven dollars coupled with social/environmental mission can offer the needed scale, power and speed to create deep and lasting social change. I think the tremendous success of Microfinance as developed by the Grameen Bank, really opened people’s eyes to the possibility and power of using investment dollars as opposed to charity to drive social innovation and positive change.

Impact investing has a very wide spectrum, and can be small scale to large, local to global. I believe it is critical for communities to invest in their own development, moving more resources into local ownership. On a more global scale we can invest in things like clean energy, microfinance, and sustainable agriculture.

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Leveraging microfinance in unexpected ways

By Malaika Maphalala

Alex Counts, founder of Grameen Foundation, delivered a great speech at Portland’s ReVisioning Value conference this year that gave new insight on the remarkable and unexpected side effects of microfinance in poor communities around the world. Grameen Bank was founded by Muhammad Yunus in 1976 to meet the real financing needs of the poor in Bangladesh. The model Yunus developed was spread around the world through a global movement that now reaches over 150 million of the world poorest people. Besides the very real positive influence that access to credit provides individuals trying to build thriving businesses, create savings, and move out of poverty, the microfinance movement has built a global infrastructure that links millions of disadvantaged families to each other and integrates them into the global economy. It is the largest mobilization of the world’s poor in history, and represents a new cutting edge for possibilities in groundbreaking social innovation.

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The rabble rousers at Equal Exchange

By Malaika Maphalala

Many of you are familiar with Equal Exchange, the Fair Trade company marketing chocolate, coffee, and teas.  Over the past year, I’ve enjoyed several conversations with Equal Exchange’s Capital Managers, Alistair Williamson and Daniel Fireside, to learn about their business practices. I’ve been deeply impressed by their downright revolutionary business model and philosophy. They are, in fact, economic activists who take pride in their role as visionary rebels. Equal Exchange’s deep commitment to social justice permeates every level of its business: the internal structure, relationships with trade partners, and business financing models.


Internally, Equal Exchange is a for-profit business structured as a democratically-run worker owned co-operative, where every employee has a say in the direction of the business along with a financial stake in its success or failure.  After one year at Equal Exchange,

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