Carolyn McMaster | July 5, 2012
We have long admired the work of RSF Social Finance, an organization that is transforming the way the world works with money. We are extremely proud to say that RSF is now a client! We’re working with them to help get their story out—or rather, their stories, which are incredibly rich and varied.
At a basic level, RSF provides loans and grants to social enterprises in food and agriculture, the environment, and education and the arts. Since 1984, they have made $285 million in loans and provided $109 million in grants. But their innovative work goes far beyond these numbers. RSF is a catalyst for social finance, working with organizations like B Lab and the Social Venture Network to build new models for doing business. RSF creates financial relationships among stakeholders that are direct, transparent and personal—adjectives not typically associated with finance as we know it.
One great example is RSF’s pricing meetings, begun in 2009, in which borrowers and investors discuss what’s happening with their money and work together to recommend interest rates. This creates a community working for mutual benefit rather than the typical adversarial relationship in which everyone seeks only their own advantage.
It seems fitting, or maybe ironic, that we’re celebrating our new relationship with RSF at a time when yet another story of financial misdeeds is in the headlines: Barclays’ chairman has resigned and the bank is paying a paltry $450 million to settle accusations that it manipulated interest rates to boost its bottom line at the expense of borrowers. The slightly bright side is that the Barclays affair is part of a wider investigation into the secretive and complex ways big banks set rates that affect borrowing costs.
It goes without saying that this is antithetical to RSF’s work, which is based in associative economics, a philosophy that considers all stakeholders’ needs. RSF’s transformative work is helping to build the next economy. We’ll keep you updated on their progress.