It Goes Back to Time and Resources and Effectively Leveraging All of Our Resources and Relationships

The Aspen Institute
By Lisa A. Hagerman
February 20, 2018

Lisa Hager­man is the Direc­tor of Pro­grams at DBL Part­nersa dou­ble bot­tom line ven­ture cap­i­tal firm, which she joined in 2011.  Lisa is lead­ing the strat­e­gy and imple­men­ta­tion of dou­ble bot­tom line prac­tices, work­ing with DBL’s port­fo­lio com­pa­nies across work­force devel­op­ment, envi­ron­men­tal stew­ard­ship, com­mu­ni­ty engage­ment, and pub­lic policy.

This inter­view is part of the Aspen Insti­tute Cen­ter for Urban Innovation’s series of con­ver­sa­tions with inclu­sive inno­va­tion practitioners

Jen­nifer Bradley:  How do you think about the rela­tion­ship between the tool of ven­ture cap­i­tal and values?

Lisa Hager­man:  I see it as a tool for inclu­sive inno­va­tion because it is a vehi­cle for large insti­tu­tion­al investors, many pri­vate foun­da­tions, fam­i­ly foun­da­tions, fam­i­ly offices, high net-worth indi­vid­u­als, pub­lic and cor­po­rate pen­sion funds, and now uni­ver­si­ty endow­ments, to invest for strong finan­cial returns, but also pos­i­tive social and envi­ron­men­tal impacts on soci­ety.  With­out impact ven­ture cap­i­tal, investors wouldn’t be able to allo­cate cap­i­tal with the intent of hav­ing these dual returns.

Being able to move beyond tra­di­tion­al phil­an­thropy through val­ues-based invest­ing sends sig­nif­i­cant amounts of cap­i­tal into dif­fer­ent sec­tors and sup­ports the whole ecosys­tem that then leads to inno­v­a­tive tech­nolo­gies and sig­nif­i­cant job cre­ation, because you’re doing all of this at scale with sub­stan­tial capital.

And today pret­ty much all of the entre­pre­neurs that are com­ing in our door are social entre­pre­neurs and they are doing this because they want to cre­ate a ter­rif­ic com­pa­ny and they want to do very well, but they also want to have a pos­i­tive impact on soci­ety and solve problems.

So val­ues are at the cen­ter from the investor per­spec­tive and the entre­pre­neur per­spec­tive, and of course our whole ethos going back to 2004 was the dou­ble bot­tom line: the finan­cial return and then the sec­ond return of social, envi­ron­men­tal and eco­nom­ic ben­e­fits in the sec­tors and regions in which we invest.

To read the full inter­view, vis­it The Aspen Insti­tute, Cen­ter for Urban Inno­va­tion.