January 2024

Reimagining Finance and Capital for Shared Power and Equity

We need new models of finance and capital for share power and equity

Equity means shifting power. In today’s world, much of that power rests with people who make decisions about finance and capital. 

When decisions are made by a few, far from community and place, they lack our collective intelligence, and our futures are less self-determined. 

We are seeing a reckoning on finance and capital. We know current models are too narrow, too short-sighted to address our polycrisis and complex social problems. Business-as-usual is contributing to inequality, climate change and destruction of nature.

From disaster-affected towns to First Nations communities, to Treasury and major financial  institutions and investors, we’re probing and challenging our assumptions about finance and capital. In parallel, technologies emerging from Web3 are predicted to offer radically new opportunities for our collective futures, including community finance.

It’s an important time to explore, what might finance and capital for shared power and equity look like? How can new technologies like Web 3.0 help us unlock and appreciate new forms of value in our communities? What happens when communities manage capital and local investments for healthier, regenerative futures? 

No one knows what promises of transformation will be fulfilled, what will fade as hype, but we do know shared power and equity must be centred in whatever change is coming. We also know that well-designed innovation and learning is needed to explore these opportunities. 

We’re learning with organisations like the Criterion Institute, a global think-tank on finance as a strategy for social change. Criterion’s new research on community-centred blended finance in Australia highlights innovations in investment design that challenge assumptions of traditional financing and recenter Indigenous power, needs and expertise.

We’re exploring opportunities to incubate, test and learn from equity-centred applications of Web 3.0 technology in finance – hand in hand with reimagining new forms of governance for shared power. Stay tuned for our upcoming webinar on this in early 2024 with the Menzies Foundation. 

We’re also exploring place-based capital as a way for shifting power to communities through community-owned and controlled resources.  As a strategic partner of Ethical Fields, we have been working and learning alongside partner organisations and communities through the Place Based Capital Program (PBCP). 

This has led us to ask: How do we centre equity in the local systems and structures that support place-based capital, and not get stuck reproducing power imbalances? This will require creative and innovative practices and models, and we look forward to testing and applying learning from across Australia and overseas. 

Finance and capital are changing and we want to change it for the better. 

We look forward to exploring and answering these questions with fellow systems thinkers and doers in 2024 and beyond. 

This piece is co-authored by Min Wah Voon, Head of Engagement and Influencing, and Kate Williams, Practitioner, at Collaboration for Impact. 

Image: Transforming Systems Forum 2023. Photo by Poroma Kanya.

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