Greg talks about the evolution of Ceniarth’s investment strategy and how it led to their focus on impact-first capital preservation
“One of the misunderstood things about impact-first capital is that you’re taking on some extreme risk by pursuing these opportunities…The real sacrifice or “concession” that we make is that most of these opportunities need low-cost, patient capital – lower cost than any commercial or market-rate investor would be willing to bring to a deal.”
“You’ll get no argument from me that there are sectors where moving institutional scale, finance-first money is what’s needed. Our argument is that in places where the market is not functioning, in places where markets have left people behind, this kind of low-cost money is required in order to make a difference in the lives of poor, marginalized, vulnerable communities and we shouldn’t delude ourselves into believing that finance-first (impact investing) is a magic bullet.”
– Greg Neichin, Director at Ceniarth
Ceniarth is the impact-first, single family office of Diane Isenberg. The office manages ~$450M and invests in marginalized, primarily rural, communities. Ceniarth focuses on geographies and markets where commercial, finance-first impact investing is not realistic and where there are meaningful tradeoffs between impact and return. The office invests with fund managers such as Global Partnerships, MCE Social Capital, and Water Equity, and is a direct lender to a diverse set of enterprises including HOPE Credit Union, COMACO, and Good Nature Agro.
This episode of Money and Meaning features Greg Neichin, Director of Ceniarth and the first employee of the office back in 2013. Greg was previously the Executive Vice President of the Cleantech Group where he led the firm’s global advisory business helping investors identify and evaluate opportunities in energy and resource markets. He spent four years on the management team of GetActive Software, one of the earliest, online fundraising platforms for charities and began his career as a consultant with Oliver Wyman. Greg has a B.A. from Dartmouth College and an M.B.A. from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. During the conversation, Greg talks about the evolution of Ceniarth’s unique impact-first approach and the important role that family offices and foundations can play in the sector.
- Learn more about Ceniarth’s three investment strategies, including impact-first capital preservation, and check out their portfolio
- Download “Back to the Frontier: Investing that Puts Impact First” By Michael Etzel, Matt Bannick, Mariah Collins, Jordana Fremed, and Roger Thompson from the Bridgespan Group
- “An Argument for Investing Where the Return Is Social Change” By Paul Sullivan in the New York Times
- Read “An ‘impact-first’ approach to investing for climate justice in rural communities” by Vince Knowles and Greg Neichin in ImpactAlpha (behind paywall)
- Download the Ceniarth report “Impact-First Capital Preservation” from 2019
- Read “Catalytic Capital: Diane Isenberg lays down a “1/10th Challenge” for wealthy families” in ImpactAlpha (behind paywall)
- “Cash Benchmarking: A Solution in Search of a Problem” by Kevin Starr from the Mulago Foundation
- Watch Greg at SOCAP20 with Chintan Panchal of RPCK and Yasemin Saltuk Lamy of the CDC Group in the session “Catalytic Capital Driving Impact” below:
Money + Meaning is the official podcast of SOCAP. The series aims to expand the conversation around impact investing and strategies to finance and support social change while stimulating innovative and valuable new partnerships across sectors.