Somewhere between a lot and not enough!


Leonardo Letelier


I lead Sitawi Finance for Good, a Brazilian nonprofit that develops infrastructure for the Impact Economy in Brazil – in other words, we try to accelerate the flow of funds for positive social and environmental impact.

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the ‘Next Frontiers – Stewarding Wealth for People and the Planet’ conference, organized by Joseph Roundtree Foundation (JRF) with the support of Be the Earth, among others.

Conveniently, I was already in London (my wife is taking a Masters’ degree in the UK), so my carbon footprint was minimal (I walked to the venue), and I could take my daughter to football practice at the end of the day.

I mention that because one of the many great aspects of the conference was the privilege to meet – in person – several people with similar interests. The conference had many very interesting sessions, including Humanising & Organising wealthy people; Hacking the Wealth Defence Industry; Beyond Impact Investing – Driving a greener, fairer more resilient economy; and Decolonizing Wealth: Practices for transition, hospice and emergence.

Before proceeding, I should share that Sitawi work covers the space from Philanthropy to Impact (first) Investment. As part of our work in Impact Investment, we run an online crowdlending platform that allows anyone in Brazil to become an impact investor, from USD2. The type of deals that we bring to the platform are loans to coops in the Amazon: investors get their money back with returns above inflation, but nobody will get rich investing in the platform.

In general, I believe people could do more (or better) with their investment capital, but I feel very good about our contribution in the Finance space to support the evolution towards a more just and sustainable world. 

Entering the ‘Decolonizing Wealth: Practices for transition, hospice and emergence’ session with its ‘House of Modernity’ framework, I start to doubt myself. Without trying to describe the framework (and failing miserably at it), I am basically reminded that a more just and sustainable world will not come by tweaking at the edges, but it necessitates deeper, structural changes. To a large extent, impact (first) investing, even if a considerable evolution from traditional finance – and still much underinvested – is still ‘finance as it is’. It does not constitute the revolution of ‘finance as it should be’. 

And therein lies the tension between the pragmatical and the aspirational, between reality and perfection, between (I am doing) a lot and not enough.

After internally debating how to solve this conundrum, my personal paradigm was updated from ‘We need to vastly increase the flow of resources for impact (first) investment’ to ‘We still need to vastly increase the flow of resources for impact (first) investment while we are cognizant of the need to and proactively support the paradigm shift within the house of modernity.’

Leonardo Letelier is the Founder and CEO of Sitawi Finance for Good

Tagged in: #NextFrontiers2024

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