ImpactAlpha, Jul. 8 – Amy Bell’s early work as a financier and advisor to impact funds and social enterprises helped establish the nascent field of impact investing. As the new chief executive of a mission-driven enterprise in Austin, Tex., Bell is seeking more direct impact.
Bell last month took the helm of The Cook’s Nook, a meal- and food-service provider for local government and nonprofits that last year produced and delivered a half-million meals to Austin families facing food insecurity. Bell says the company, founded as an inclusive culinary incubator by Joi Chevalier, is just beginning to address the massive gap in healthy food access.
Bell’s operating role follows stints at JPMorgan Chase, where she helped build out of the bank’s impact investing business; consulting firm Tideline; and most recently, the strategic investments arm of Whole Foods Markets. “I have a passion for thinking about how for-profit solutions can be used to drive impact,” Bell told ImpactAlpha.
Having been on the investor side of the table, Bell thought, “I would personally love the experience on the other side of the table. What is it like to really build one of these businesses and own it from start to finish?”
Another throughline in Bell’s journey: equitable food systems. At JPMorgan, Bell backed smallholder agriculture funds like Pearl Capital Partners and biodiversity funds like EcoEnterprise Funds, where she worked briefly after leaving the bank. In Austin, Bell has advised and made angel investments through Foodshed Investors, and at Whole Foods, she financed mission-driven suppliers and food entrepreneurs.
At The Cook’s Nook, Bell will help Chevalier expand the equitable food model regionally, and even nationally. “It’s clear that there is an appetite and interest to go bigger.”
Bell’s early seeds are bearing fruit. She sees more investors investing for impact, entrepreneurs driven by mission and more people talking and thinking about how to change capitalism to work for all stakeholders.
“The business we’re building at The Cook’s Nook has a better chance of being successful because we have an audience of stakeholders who understand what we’re trying to build.”