Amy Cortese is a rare bird indeed. She is almost alone in focusing her pen on crowdfunding’s ability to build underserved communities. She is equally interested in the place-based communities and demographic communities. Her book, Locavesting, is the definitive book on the topic.
Amy’s business, also called Locavesting, serves as a source of information for communities seeking greater access to capital.
Amy explains her view of the problem, “We live in an age of massive wealth inequality and lack of economic access, especially for women, people of color and those in underserved areas. How do we create an economy that works for all, instead of the few? The first thing is to tackle finance and channel more resources into communities.”
Access to capital for underserved communities is one of the great promises of crowdfunding. By reducing the dependence of women and minorities on traditional sources of capital like banks and venture capital that have not met their needs, crowdfunding hold the potential to lift communities.
Amy says, “Locavesting has chronicled and championed the rise of community capital.”
Recently, Amy launched a new platform, she describes as “Kayak for crowdfunding” that aggregates equity crowdfunding offerings in one place. She calls the new service Investibule.
“Investibule takes that a big step forward by connecting people with investment opportunities in their communities,” she says. “We believe in the wisdom of the community. Our goal is to accelerate the movement by raising awareness and shifting the financial narrative and flow of money into these emerging community-friendly investments.”
Great challenges remain for crowdfunding to achieve its potential for changing communities. The scale of equity crowdfunding in 2016 remained far below the hopes of the industry.
Amy says the number one challenge is education. “Most people have not heard of crowdfunding, or may be intimidated by the idea of directly investing. We also recognize that in some communities, there is not much disposable income to invest. So while the will may be there, the means may not be.”
Amy recognizes, too, that crowdfunding and other related community financing mechanisms can’t solve all of the problems for underserved populations.
“Individual investing is just one slice of the pie—albeit a potentially powerful one,” she says. “Inequality, economic justice are such deep issues, we need concerted action on the part of institutional investors, corporations and lawmakers. In addition, many entrepreneurs need technical assistance and coaching before they are ready to raise money—we don’t address that part of the equation.”
Despite the challenges, Amy remains optimistic. “We hope to contribute to, in a small way, a more fair and just economy and society. You can’t have a healthy economy without healthy, resilient communities. By channeling more capital to community-based ventures, we hope to grow a new generation of job-creating entrepreneurs and empower communities to invest in themselves and they change they want to see. We believe in the idea of community underwriting, that the wisdom of the community can surface and support the best ideas and ventures.”
On Thursday, January 12, 2017 at noon Eastern, Amy will join me here for a live discussion about her work to improve access to capital for struggling communities. Tune in here (at the top of this article) then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
More about Locavesting:
Locavesting is the definitive source for news and educational content about the evolving community capital and crowdfinance fields. We shine a spotlight on the innovate models that are empowering entrepreneurs, investors and their communities. Building on that base, investibule.co is a new aggregation platform that connects investors with crowdfunded offerings in their communities—a “Kayak for community capital.”
AMY CORTESE is a journalist who writes about topics spanning business, finance & food for publications including the New York Times and B magazine. Her book, Locavesting, was one of the pioneering works on the emerging local investing and community capital movement. She is the founder & editor of Locavesting.com, a media and educational site that covers the evolving community finance space, and cofounder of investibule, a new discovery platform for community-based investments. Based in Brooklyn, Amy has been named a “Top 30 Crowdfunding Thought Leader,” and was awarded a New Capital Markets Leadership Award by the Crowdfund Intermediary Regulatory Association. She was honored to present at the historic April 2012 Rose Garden signing of the JOBS Act.
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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!