As someone who likes to keep busy, I wear a lot of hats. I’m a father, a CEO, an entrepreneur, an impact investor and a United Nations ambassador for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Now, I’m adding documentarian to that list.
Over the last several months, I’ve been overseeing the development of Impact, a new documentary showcasing the power of entrepreneurs who have infused purpose into their businesses by aligning with one of the U.N.’s SDGs.
The idea for this project first sprouted after I watched Revenge of the Electric Car. I was particularly struck by Elon Musk’s storyline and how he risked everything he owned for an idea he was so passionate about. The film impacted me so deeply – more than any book, movie or speech had ever done before. I came away inspired to pursue cutting-edge ideas and re-align my business with my passion and values to make a positive impact.
The rest, you can say, is history. I’m now an evangelist for impact investing – investments that generate a measurable positive impact alongside a traditional financial return. In my quest to inspire others to become impact investors, I realized that a documentary would be the ideal tool for attracting people interested in using their businesses and investments to make the world a better place. The storytelling format of a documentary is a powerful medium that can emotionally connect you to people and ideas in a way that no other format can. It’s one thing to read about an entrepreneur’s novel business plan. It’s another thing to see that entrepreneur in action, and how he or she impacts people’s lives on a very personal level.
Impact is a great illustration of two such entrepreneurs in action. It follows the stories of David Katz, founder and CEO of The Plastic Bank, and George Taylor, CEO of TRU Colors Brewing Company. The Plastic Bank is a startup that takes plastic debris bound to pollute the oceans and turns it into currency. TRU Colors is a craft brewery that recruits active gang members and offers them a second chance in life. Not only have these entrepreneurs achieved financial success, they’re also making a difference in the world by using their business for good. They’re helping people take care of themselves, providing a means to support their families and their communities. The Plastic Bank provides a consistent, above-market rate for plastic waste, giving impoverished communities access to a stable income. TRU Colors gives gang members a chance to change their destiny, dramatically reducing violent crime in the process.
These examples illustrate how entrepreneurs think differently. Where most people would see plastic on a beach as junk, David sees treasure that can help people move out of poverty. When most employers would require a job candidate to quit a gang, George makes active gang membership a job requirement so that meaningful dialogue and positive change can begin to take shape in the community.
David and George both embody the artistry that takes place when entrepreneurism aligns with the SDGs. By nature, entrepreneurs are immensely creative. The SDGs provide us with the palette of colors to express that creativity and innovation when we align our businesses and our investments with our passion and values.
When Impact premiers at the U.N. this September, I hope viewers come away with a clearer understanding of the power of impact investments. This is not a niche. This is a movement. With impact investing, you can align your passion and values with your investments, change the world and increase your wealth. I hope you’ll join me on this vastly rewarding journey.