Posts Tagged ‘sri in hawaii’

NI does TED: Regenerative Capitalism

NI partner Michael Kramer was a featured speaker at TEDx: Hilo in February.  In this talk, Michael shares his ideas for transforming capitalism. He describes what’s possible and achievable as we all come to better understand how we spend our money and consider the values of the corporations that we support. Michael also played a key role in moving Hawaii’s B-Corporation designation through the state legislature and shares insights into the changes we can make to improve capitalism for everyone.


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Kramer, Frazier speak on local investing

Slim logoNatural Investments’ Michael Kramer and James Frazier were the featured speakers at a recent event co-sponsored by several Maui organizations, on the topic of “Green Business and Investing Locally.”  The wide-ranging presentation received detailed coverage in the Maui Weekly, and we encourage you to check out the full article here.

Michael stressed the importance of a new initiative that would allow small businesses to use crowd-sourcing projects such as Kickstarter to accept investments from individuals up to $10,000; currently, there are some daunting regulatory hurdles, designed to protect small investors, that make it difficult for small businesses to raise money locally without going through complex SEC oversight.  HR 2930, the “Crowd Funding Bill,” is before congress now with bipartisan support.

James shared his experiences as a part of the Local Investing Opportunities Network, a membership-based network that has created another pathway to legally invest in small local businesses.  (see more in these two previous NI Blog posts).  Frazier noted that local investing used to be the norm, with new business owners receiving startup funds from friends and neighbors or the local bank.  In addition, many cities had their own local stock exchanges, including Honolulu. However, with the growth of Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange, investing became national; local exchanges could not compete and ultimately closed.  LION is a step toward changing that; in Port Townsend, Washington, where the initial LION network emerged, over $2.7 million has been invested in 37 small businesses.

For more, see the Maui Weekly article.


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NI garners Best for the World designation

Natural Investments has been recognized as ‘Best for the World’ in a list of U.S. businesses with less than 10 employees creating the most overall positive social and environmental impact.  Natural Investments and the other ‘Best for the World’ businesses earned a score in the top 10% of all Certified B Corporations with 10 employees or less, and, on average, 50% higher than the average score of nearly 2,000 other sustainable businesses that have completed the B Impact Assessment.

The B Impact Assessment, governed by the nonprofit B Lab, is the most rigorous, comprehensive, and comparable independent assessment of overall corporate impact in the country, and shows the relative value businesses create for society by comparing nearly 200 individual metrics on corporate impact on workers, consumers, suppliers, community and the environment.

“Natural Investments is a leader in the global movement to redefine success in business,” said Jay Coen Gilbert, co founder of B Lab, the organization that certifies B Corporations. “Natural Investments is among the best in the world at being the best for the world.”

“We are proud to have earned this distinction,” said Natural Investments’ Managing Partner Michael Kramer. “Our clients walk their talk with their investments, so it makes sense for us to operate our company with attention to high social and environmental standards.” 

The ‘Best for the World’ list appears in the 2012 B Corp Annual Report published in early March by B Lab. Learn more about how Natural Investments creates positive social and environmental impact at


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10 Steps to Embrace a Greener Lifestyle

Hawaii Hibiscus by Matsuda Yukihiro

Hawaii Hibiscus by Matsuda Yukihiro

By Michael Kramer

As you’re reading this article, go ahead and cross your arms as you usually would. If you notice, you can accomplish this effortlessly, without really thinking about it. Now, release this position and cross your arms again, only this time put the other arm on top. How awkward was that?

Human behavior is full of habitual practices, which is why doing something as simple as crossing your arms a different way isn’t a simple task.  We have similar habits in many aspects of our lives, from how we brush our teeth, cook our food, and study for tests to how we treat people, dress, and shop.  We also have very different tendencies when it comes to moving beyond our comfort zone and embracing change.

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New SEC Ruling on Shareholder Resolutions

By Michael Kramer

During the recent SRI in the Rockies conference in late October 2009, the leading social investment professionals in the industry heard from the chief legal counsel to SEC Commissioner Luis Aguilar about an exciting ruling that allows the filing of shareholder resolutions that address the financial risks of corporate activities in environmental and social areas. This is a huge victory for the SRI industry, which organized an extensive campaign to reverse the Bush Administration’s SEC decision to disallow such resolutions on ESG issues. The social investment industry wrote a December 2008 letter to the incoming Obama Administration that “effective disclosure of these issues through the proxy process can lead to better anticipatory action by corporations such as the control of greenhouse gases and the development of safer alternative materials.”

While most shareholder resolutions, particularly those that address issues surrounding climate change, merely ask companies to conduct analyses of the risks associated with global warming, the Bush Administration saw this as interfering with management. But in a stark reversal, the SEC stated, “We have recently witnessed a marked increase in the number of no-action requests in which companies seek to exclude proposals as relating to an evaluation of risk,” but “our application of the analytical framework may have resulted in the unwarranted exclusion of proposals that relate to the evaluation of risk but that focus on significant policy issues.”  As such, the SEC stated, “The fact that a proposal would require an evaluation of risk will not be dispositive of whether the proposal may be excluded.” What still needs to be determined, however, is whether the particular issue contained in a given shareholder resolution meets the threshold for consideration under the new ruling. In the absence of specific criteria, SEC staff will be left to make subjective determinations of what is appropriate or not within the social policies suggested in shareholder resolutions.

Michael Kramer is a Managing Partner of Natural Investments LLC and the Director of Social Research

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