"This patient capital movement has already attracted tens of millions of dollars. Investors are driven by the opportunity to match their faith with their finances."
Christian investment vehicles have always struggled. When the FaithShares ETF launched in December 2009, it was to significant press. The founders rang the opening bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, and the Christian and secular press covered their launch. The funds allowed retail investors to put money into stocks based on the recommendations of their denominations. Baptists could avoid liquor while Methodists could avoid gambling profits. However, 18 months after the high-profile launch, FaithShares went defunct.
Now a new movement is well underway that links Christian values and emerging investment opportunities. This time, it isn’t retail investors who are participating but the more affluent “qualified” investors. They’re taking a new approach to their money, patiently allowing firms the time required to obtain their objectives. They aren’t ringing bells to announcing these new opportunities, but slowly attracting wealthy Christian investors who want to earn solid returns, achieve social goods like providing jobs or clean water, while also seeing spiritual fruit.
This patient capital movement has already attracted tens of millions of dollars. Investors are driven by the opportunity to match their faith with their finances. They expect to earn a return, but to see social impact (jobs created, children in school) and spiritual fruit (families seeking prayer from chaplains and churches built). The Acumen Fund, a non-sectarian group seeking social good, defines patient capital as “a debt or equity investment in an early-stage enterprise providing low-income consumers with access to healthcare, water, housing, alternative energy, or agricultural inputs.” The Christian funds also seek some kind of spiritual return on investments of less than $2.5 million.
Andreas Witmer, a former member of the Pope’s Swiss Guard, began studying Catholic theology and the free market economy after one of his own investments turned bad. Witmer is now launching a debt fund and has served as a kind of personal think tank for the movement. He’s the author of The CEO and the Pope: John Paul II’s Leadership Lessons to a Young Swiss Guard. Despite his early questions, he has now determined that “business done in a virtuous way is a core constituent of prosperity.” ...