Changing Planet

Social Entrepreneurs and Investors Explore Sustainable Oceans Sector

Early next month, entrepreneurs, investors, and other thought leaders will gather at the annual Social Capital Markets meeting in San Francisco. Known to many as SOCAP, this annual meeting started over five years ago. It focuses on using capital markets to advance social well-being and has covered topics ranging from mobile phone technology to agricultural finance. This year, I’m pleased to see a strong emphasis on entrepreneurial opportunities in the ocean.

This oceans focus is a first for SOCAP, and it speaks to growing activity in ocean issues by the investment and social enterprise community.

We see this momentum building with Manta Consulting’s Fish 2.0 business programAlaksa Boats (stock) too. Our Fish 2.0 Network has grown to over 600 members, and more investors and entrepreneurs are joining the program every day.

Through a variety of efforts, ocean-related businesses are gaining traction – in seafood supply chains, technology, and waste reduction. As a result, more and more investors are exploring the ocean sector. And as they do so, investors see that there are both big financial gains to be made in these markets and great opportunities to improve the condition of ocean environments and coastal communities.

I’m excited about this trend. Really excited.

Here’s why:

1. More Investments to Drive Successful, Ocean-Friendly Business Development

Despite the fact that oceans cover more than 70% of the Earth and supply protein to billions of people, they have lagged behind other topics with investors who are looking to both “do well and do good” with their money.

These “impact investors” have focused on energy and climate change, sustainable food systems, poverty alleviation, and a variety of other topics. Now they are seeing how seafood and ocean health interweave with these issues. This interest will bring more financial backing into the industry, building better, more successful businesses.

2. More Exposure for Ocean Entrepreneurs

This increasing exposure for ocean issues within investment circles will give ocean-related entrepreneurs a chance to shine. There are many strong business ideas out there, but they need capital to expand and gain a stronger influence on improving the environmental and social sustainability of fishing and fish farming.

3. More Ways to Invest

As different types of investors learn more about the oceans and seafood business opportunities, the diversity of financing options increases.  Impact-interested venture capitalists, banks, and non-traditional lending institutions are now exploring ocean deals together. This interaction creates opportunities to develop new deal structures that reduce risk and increase positive social and environmental impacts.

4. More People at the Table

To create businesses that could revolutionize ocean industries the way a company like Apple changed how we look at computers, we need more minds at the table, more businesses trying new approaches to sustainability. The building excitement around oceans will bring in a new cast of entrepreneurs and investors who will help push the field in ways we cannot yet imagine.

Join the Conversation

Our team from Manta Consulting Inc will share insights from the Fish 2.0 business competition and contribute to a number of panel discussions at the upcoming SOCAP’13 meeting. Topics we will address include:

  • What drives investors in other issue areas to get involved in the seafood sector and what have they learned from this experience?
  • How can investors find business and partnership opportunities in the oceans sector and how can interested seafood businesses find investors?
  • Many programs help social entrepreneurs around the world tell their stories and pitch their business ideas so that they are more attractive to investors. How are these programs structured and what makes them successful?

I invite those who can’t make the SOCAP meeting to follow the conversations through SOCAP’s live screening of key sessions and website updates.  Join the conversations and let us know what you think by writing us at fish20@mantaconsultinginc.com!

Monica Jain is the founder and Executive Director of Fish 2.0 and Manta Consulting Inc. She has worked for over 20 years in the private sector and philanthropy, and specializes in the creation of innovative financing strategies and structures for impact investors, foundations, and private sector–non-profit partnerships. She has a background in marine biology and a deep passion for both fisheries and social change. Monica has launched several entrepreneurial ventures and has extensive experience in finance and philanthropy. She created Fish 2.0 in 2013 to connect seafood businesses and investors and to grow the sustainable seafood industry globally. Learn more at www.fish20.org or www.mantaconsultinginc.com
  • Allison

    Great Article! Portland Stage University has a course and website called Rethink Sustain that discusses how to create action around sustainable practices. They also highlight companies which are adopting sustainable practices and setting the stage for real change. http://rethinksustain.weebly.com

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