On June 13th, Impact Engine hosted a panel discussion and networking event Is the Bank Account the Onramp to Bringing Impact Investing Mainstream? by partnering with Coalition Impact in Chicago and Mighty Deposits, a technology platform that connects impact-oriented customers with impact-focused banks. The focus of the discussion panel was what banking for impact looks like now and its future opportunities.
Banking for impact is the power that people have to choose socially-responsible banks, such as those that power small businesses and local farms. By investing their money, banks can leave a positive social impact.
“There are lots of divestment conversations: fossil fuels, prisons, DAPL,” said Oscar Perry Abello, a New York City-based Fast Company + Next City journalist. "We’d like investment in bad things to stop, but we haven’t talked much about where to invest for good things. Where is our money going? Clean energy, businesses that hire re-entry workers?”
A platform like Mighty is one solution to this dilemma. A marketplace for people to shop banks at the intersection of money and meaning, Mighty helps people find banks that support the same causes they do.
"If you want your money to impact black neighborhoods, investing in black-owned banks in black neighborhoods is a big way you can impact that,” Abello suggests.
Mighty identifies these community-oriented banks and informs about their footprint. That way, people have better access to the power they’ve always had to invest in banks that share their values.
Panelists spoke of a depth to banking that hasn’t been explored much to date—the impact of individual deposits. A little known fact, banking for impact can involve just the simple act of depositing money in socially-conscious banks.
“When we’re talking about the power of banks and what they can do, deposits are the low-hanging fruit,” pointed out panelist Ronald Milsap, manager of Mission-Based Deposits at Urban Partnership Bank, one of two certified black-governed banks in the city of Chicago.
The discussion touched upon the current state of banking across the country.
“Bank consolidation over the past 30 years has resulted in global banks eating up local banks like it were a game of Pac Man,” CEO Megan Hryndza of Mighty pointed out. “In 1985, America had more than 14,000 banks. Today, there are just 5,800 – and of those, only 23 are black-owned and only 15 owned by women. What impact innovations can we learn from these banks, and how can we scale the best pratices?”
The panelists affirmed the potential of banks to create positive social impact in the future.
"The conversation is moving to: here are the ways banks can do good and be good businesses at the same time," Mark Newberg, Director of Impact Strategies for Wombie Carlyle, said.