Courage, Capital, and the Future of Mission Investments With Roy Swan

On this episode of the Capital for Good podcast, host Georgia Levenson Keohane speaks with Roy Swan, the director of mission investments at the Ford Foundation and a national leader in the fields of sustainable finance, impact investing, and community and economic development.

Swan describes how his childhood aspirations for a career helping people, and his decades of experience in banking, community and economic development, and sustainable finance, have culminated in his work at the Ford Foundation where, he says, “our job is all about making the world better.” Swan recalls his enthusiasm when learning in 2017 that Ford had committed $1 billion of its then $12.4 billion endowment to mission-related investing: “I thought, the Ford Foundation and Darren Walker have just moved the world.” Swan joined the foundation from Morgan Stanley shortly thereafter and has helped shape and execute its mission investing strategy, focusing on private investments that achieve market rate returns and social impact in areas of affordable housing, financial inclusion, quality jobs, and identifying diverse fund managers to deploy Ford’s capital (more recently it has also expanded into biotech and health tech in the global south). Swan says that he has never been more hopeful about the future of impact investing, chiefly because we now have the data that underscore the cost — social and financial — of deep social and environmental problems (i.e., the $16 trillion lost over the last two decades in the United States to racial gaps in wages, education, housing, and investment) and the positive social benefits and economic and financial returns that come from fairness, equity, and responsible corporate behavior.

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