ImpactAlpha, March 10 – Laura Ortiz Montemayor is not on board with decarbonization or its advocates.
“Carbon is key to life. It’s a cycle that we need to balance,” she says. “That’s very different from ‘decarbonizing’.”
Ortiz describes herself as “a teacher at heart.” She thrives on helping investors untangle nature’s complexity and see the opportunity in investing in healthy, balanced ecosystems and communities.
“That comes from my grandma,” she says. “She used to teach biology and she always said, ‘The hearts that are looking to you to learn, you have to light them up. You have to infuse what you teach with love.’”
At impact advisory firm SVX Mexico, Ortiz and her team have helped direct $45 million into investment strategies and projects that support a “regenerative economy”—that is, one that’s not just repairing degradation but resetting ecosystems and communities to sustain and nourish themselves. Now, with the launch of Regenera Ventures, she’s looking to raise $25 million to make equity investments in regenerative land projects throughout Mexico.
Regenera has a goal to support 18,000 smallholder farmers working more than 65,000 acres of land. The fund aims to empower farmers and local agribusiness owners as expert land stewards rather than as financial beneficiaries. Most financial transactions “originate from fear,” Ortiz observes. “That’s not going to get us biodiversity outcomes.”
Ortiz has witnessed a promising narrative and capital shift to address climate change in the dozen years since she left investment banking and then helped launch SVX Mexico.
More than $1 trillion is moving annually into climate solutions—far below the trillions needed each year to meet the Paris Climate Agreement but nevertheless a substantial increase in a relatively short period of time. The problem, says Ortiz, is that much of that capital favors costly technology over the best—and proven—solution to climate change: nature.
Natural systems are complex, but they offer “the greatest climate mitigation potential,” says Ortiz. “The more we embrace the complexity, and nature’s intelligence, the more we will be aligned with it.”
True to Ortiz and SVX’s ethos, Regenera Ventures functions as part of a collaborative ecosystem of players making regenerative finance possible and actionable. Regenera and SVX are part of a consortium of partners that includes USAID, which has contributed $9 million in technical assistance to the new fund, Conservation International, the fund’s technical assistance implementer, Beneficial Returns’ Reciprocity Fund, and, of course, local farmers.
Smallholder farmers are the largest collective landowners in Mexico. They also have healthier soils and stronger biodiversity than large commercial farms, says Ortiz. “There’s underlying wisdom that smallholder farmers have that we need to tap into.”
Regenera strives to offer “trust-based” financing terms that it co-creates with investees. “It’s about what we are trying to build that’s different, with a regenerative mindset.”