ImpactAlpha, October 15 – Being an investment banker in Chicago as a recent graduate wasn’t working for Aunnie Patton Power.
“I was given a copy of Muhammad Yunus’ book, “Creating a World Without Poverty,” and decided that I was done making rich people richer and helping companies that didn’t care about the world succeed,” she says.
She quit her job, sold her things and set off traveling, which landed Patton Power at Unitus Capital in Bangalore, India.
Now based in Cape Town, South Africa, she wears many hats in the field. She teaches impact investing to graduate students at Oxford University, the London School of Economics, New York University and the University of Cape Town. She recently published Adventure Finance to explicate creative financing options for founders and investors. And she advises on impact deal structuring and invests herself in early-stage social ventures through Dazzle, a women’s angel network.
“My entire career has been focused on financial structuring,” she says. “I believed from early on that how we fund impact matters as much as what we fund.”
Patton Power’s latest project is Impact Finance Pro, an impact investing recruitment platform that she developed with Ashley Lewis of Accion Venture Lab to help impact investing newbies and career-switchers navigate the still “very opaque” impact career space, she says. Another key objective is to help the impact investing industry diversify its talent and skills.
“We need more diversity, not just in terms of gender and racial diversity, but also more diversity in terms of socio-economic backgrounds, lived experiences, geographies, values and skills,” she says.
The most challenging and exciting roles will be those that help investors develop fluency and fluidity across asset classes and types of capital. “Getting really smart, passionate young people and more senior people into the space is how we grow this and work towards the mainstream,” she says.
It’s important, she adds, “that individuals who may not be at the top schools are able to bring their lived experiences into this space through their experience and tenacity and willingness to work hard.”