Eva Yazhari, Beyond Capital
When Eva Helene Yazhari discovered impact investing, she was working as a financial analyst covering activist hedge fund managers. “I was able to see how managers were rallying for change with their dollars,” says Yazhari, “but they were rallying only for additional financial gain and I really started to think about what more money could do.”
While she loved working on Wall Street, in 2009 she began looking beyond her day-to-day and seeking ways to use her skills to improve the world. Drawing upon a family history in Tanzania, Eva was immersed in social justice and politics, and those commitments stayed with her into her adult life.Yazhari didn’t see a model for what she wanted to do, so she forged her own way. She dove right into impact investing and launched the Beyond Capital Fund, which invests in for-profit social enterprises in India and East Africa to improve local quality of life, especially for women. Soon after, she met Toniic co-founder Charly Kleissner at the SOCAP Conference in San Francisco and became an original member.
The Toniic community is a “high vibe tribe”
For Yazhari, joining Toniic was like taking a breath of fresh air. “My personal and executive coach always says that whatever you do, you need a high vibe tribe to help you succeed. Toniic is absolutely a high vibe tribe.”
She says Toniic gatherings are a relief because they provide a comfortable place to talk with peers embarking on similar journeys who understand the motivation to use wealth to solve problems rather than to accumulate more wealth. These impact-oriented conversations are very different from the ones she encounters elsewhere.
“Toniic has allowed me to be my authentic self. It can be so frustrating to be at tables in the wider world and have people ask me about my impact investing as if it’s a cute pet project rather than a serious commitment with the potential for global good. At Toniic, I don’t have to explain or justify any of that.”
Everyone has their own approach, she adds. Her investment strategy is driven by her personal commitment to innovation, leadership and wholeheartedness, and is mapped to U.N. Sustainable Development Goals including gender equality and climate action. Other members have different focus areas or priorities for their impact practice, and that diversity provides ongoing learning opportunities, Yazhari says. “Toniic has done a really good job of bringing people together who want to engage in authentic impact.”
Democratizing the impact conversation
Yazhari is focused on sparking a movement that speaks to a broader population. She thinks the impact investing community can do a better job of engaging with those who are just dipping their toes in the water by focusing more on the emotions behind investment choices.
The way she sees it, there are two forces at work in the investment world: the data and the storytelling. While data is an essential, it doesn’t always provide a convenient entry point.
“The current language around money is ridiculous,” she says. “The jargon we use reinforces this idea that women, people of color and poor people shouldn’t be included—that the investment world isn’t meant for us.”
Yazhari believes so wholeheartedly in the idea that anyone can become an impact investor that she wrote a book about it. The Good Your Money Can Do is a guide for applying an impact mindset holistically to all your resources, including your investments, purchases and personal networks.
“Taking ownership of all these choices can give us a feeling of accomplishment and can help us understand that all our decisions around all our resources have world-changing potential.”