Toward a new Capitalism

June 1, 2020  • Institute Staff

“The vast majority of Americans living in poverty are the working poor,” said Wes Moore, the CEO of the anti-poverty organization Robin Hood, to a packed room of leaders in finance, nonprofits, and social enterprise. “They are working not just one but, in many cases, multiple jobs. This is not just unsustainable—it’s immoral.” This set the tone for Toward a New Capitalism, a summit in Washington, DC, focused on impact investing and was co-hosted by the Institute and Prudential Financial. The event was the second major convening of the Aspen Partnership for an Inclusive Economy, a first-of-its kind, institute-wide initiative that unites changemakers with leaders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to drive greater economic security, opportunity, and resilience for all. The problem is real, said Institute CEO Dan Porterfield: “More than 50 million Americans live in or near financial crisis.” The good news is there was a shared belief that community-driven investment can make a real difference. Demonstrating this commitment, Prudential announced it had reached a significant milestone: a $1 billion impact portfolio that generates both a financial and a social return. Prudential Chairman and CEO Charles Lowrey believes those in his line of work have a “moral and a business imperative to engage on the most challenging issues of our time.” Panels tackled next-generation finance and, crucially, centering impact investing in communities. Done properly, that means recognizing the link between economic inequality and injustice. “When we get to the root of it, it’s structural racism,” said Andrea Chen, the executive director of Propeller, a New Orleans–based nonprofit that supports entrepreneurs. “If we don’t have a strong racial equity sense to our work, we’re actually working against ourselves.” Monika Mantilla of Small Business Community Capital reminded the room that minority communities “are actually probably the biggest force of economic creation, value, and development in this country.” Economic inequality remains a daunting challenge, but the forum’s audience left inspired to carry this momentum forward. As Moore said at the beginning, “We must ensure that these conversations become action plans, and those action plans become movements.” The Aspen Partnership for an Inclusive Economy was launched in partnership with the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth.