This article first appeared in the Fall 2007 issue of the Natural Investing newsletter
This year is a watershed for Natural Investment Services. In addition to our ownership change, we are celebrating the 15th anniversary of the NIS Social RatingSM (The Heart Rating) that Jack Brill developed in 1992 while writing Investing from the Heart. The nation’s only social rating system of SRI mutual funds, it is based on the breadth and depth of social responsibility criteria applied by each fund. The presentation of the Rating, from one heart to five hearts , is similar to the star-rating used by Morningstar®, and investors can use this symbol to distinguish funds that address social, environmental, and governance issues comprehensively from those which address only a few items.
By Michael Kramer This article appeared originally in the Winter 2007 edition of the Natural Investing newsletter
International investing is an integral part of Natural Investing. But which countries and foreign-owned companies make suitable investments? Over 20 years ago, SRI investors helped bring down the apartheid regime in South Africa by divesting in American companies conducting business there and asking them to cease operations there. This legacy is carried on today by seeking to avoid investment in countries which are deemed repressive or otherwise in violation of international human rights and environment standards.
There are relatively few SRI funds that focus on buying stocks outside the U.S. These include Calvert World Values and Portfolio 21. In 2005, Domini launched their European fund (see Natural Investment News, Summer 2006) and has recently opened a new PacAsia fund.
We are still waiting for someone to offer the first SRI international bond fund. Perhaps this is because of the difficulty of deciding which countries would be acceptable to SRI investors. I’ve been researching this area and found that there is no consensus on what the criteria should be for excluding or including certain countries.
By Michael Kramer This article first appeared in the Fall 2006 edition of the Natural Investing newsletter
In the 15 months since hurricanes devastated the Gulf Coast Region, natural investors have participated in revitalizing communities through investing in affordable housing, minority-owned businesses, and redeveloping urban and rural areas torn apart by the storms.
Community development financial institutions (CDFIs) have channeled capital to low-income and displaced populations traditionally underserved by conventional banks, providing credit to those who have insufficient income or lack credit or collateral. This assistance has been and continues to be critical for those hardest hit by Katrina. Because the CDFIs were already in these communities, they had the infrastructure and relationships in place to offer immediate and prolonged help throughout the recovery effort.
Natural Investment Services (NIS) investors have to date invested over $2.2 million in this community investing initiative through two primary vehicles: CRA Qualified Investment Fund and Calvert Community Investment Notes.