There were times when it was easy to draw a line between left-wing and right-wing stances. Nowadays, the division is not as clear. Geert Wilders, for example, wants fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands, but at the same time he wants to make health insurance cheaper for people who can barely afford it. And what about the left-wing; does it still consist of hard working laborers or is it now owned by the new deep-pocketed elite?
Left Wing vs Right Wing
For Europe it's hard to find any data, but consider the following statistics about the political views of Americans in 2015:
- 31% of Americans identified as "Socially Conservative" while an equal 31% identified as "Socially Liberal."
However, when the word "Fiscally" is added into the equation, things are much more one-sided.
- 39% of Americans identified as "Fiscally Conservative" while only 19% said they were "Fiscally Liberal."
What does this mean?
One theory could be that people aren't willing to put their money where their mouths are. However, another possibility could be that people in America generally believe (in theory) in being as responsible with money as possible.
Never mind the record levels of consumer debt, the principles behind Fiscal Conservatism is what they agree with.
Effect on Social Impact Investing
There's a key word in Social Impact Investing that separates it from other attempts to improve societies across the world: "Investing."
Unlike large-scale philanthropy or even small-scale charity, impact investing is a money-making venture, for all parties involved. The beneficiaries of social impact investments make improvements for their communities, or in the case of Lendahand their actual businesses, and they provide jobs and basic necessities for people in their communities.
The actual impact investors themselves get a return on their investments. There's nothing more Fiscally Conservative than earning money on your investments.
Therefore, when someone considers the left-wing / right-wing spectrum as it relates to social impact investing, it can be a difficult thing to peg.
Do all Conservatives not care about the environment? Do most Conservatives not care about improving the lives of the less fortunate across the world? Of course not.
To illustrate this, consider the fact that conservative states in the U.S. basically make up the entire top 15 spots when ranking states by charitable giving, while the the bottom 15 is made up of almost exclusively liberal states.
On the opaque left-wing to right-wing scale, you could say the Lendahand team is generally left of center. We’re naive enough to believe that we can create a better world together and stubborn enough to believe that the best way to do this is through capital markets. There are some Greenpeace lovers among us, but another part of the team that knows quotes from the movie Wall Street by heart.
Equal Opportunities for Everyone
Each of us has our own opinions, but whether or not you identify as a Conservative or a Liberal, when it comes to social impact investing, we’re all working towards the same goal: a level playing field for everyone. Such that it doesn’t matter where you’re born, you will have the opportunity in your life to create something (but you must still jump on the opportunity). Some team members here believe that impact is a result, while others believe that impact is the catalyst.
For instance, some believe that if we are able to successfully scale our business profitably then meaningful social impact will follow. Others believe that if we successfully create meaningful social impact first, our goal of scale and profitability will follow. These together form a set of beliefs, which we as a company represent. In doing so, we differentiate between opinions and axioms.
What We Assume vs What We Believe
We are willing to enter into discussions about our opinions and even change our opinion if the counter-arguments are convincing. We see this as part of our learning process. We make assumptions, test those, and if disproven, we let go of them.
To clarify, with axioms, we mean positions which we are not willing to depart from. Our axioms are non-negotiable. Period. And you can think of that what you want – it’s your right of course – but we will not let go of these axioms, no matter how strong your arguments are.
To us, these axioms are fundamental truths.
Here are some of our axioms:
- People in poor countries often feel like their lives don’t matter. We think that’s unfair, and Lendahand exists to help people out of poverty, through job creation and access to basic needs, so that they feel their lives are meaningful.
- People in poor countries are (generally) not lazy, though they are often unaware of the possibilities, and in many cases, they have resigned themselves to a life with little prospects.
- People in Europe have capital that they want to increasingly employ in a sustainable and responsible manner. Driven by continuous technological progress (and affordable credit), entrepreneurship in emerging countries creates a positive impact.
Here are a few examples of our opinions:
- SMEs in emerging countries reap the benefits of financing, even when interest rates are initially relatively high.
- Smart and compassionate crowd investors acknowledge the power of the combination of financial and social return. Most of these investors weigh financial returns more than social returns.
- Microfinance adds a lot of value as a financial service for poor people, but it will not eliminate poverty by itself.
- Production and usage of energy can both be done in a much smarter way.
- Innovation is often incremental and sometimes disruptive.
Voice Your Opinion
On social media, we sometimes receive comments about being brainwashed to believe that solar energy adds value. That’s okay, we’d love to debate that. But if we receive comments about us throwing money at lazy people, it’s not a discussion we want to start.
Briefly said, if you think we don’t see things clearly and have wrong opinions, please convince us. We love to learn! Of course, we hope that you are open to our opinions as well, so we can have an actual discussion, rather than just emotional mud-slinging.
Lendahand is a dynamic organization. We are on a mission, and we’re working on it together with our network of crowd investors. If there are things we can improve, we want you to tell us. Further, if there are things preventing you from joining, we are even more interested in hearing why.
So to summarize, we’ve all got opinions, and we all want to discuss them, but let’s make sure our discussions are furthering the cause of making correct decisions based on facts and the truth. Want to challenge our reasoning or logic? Want to voice your opinion? Tweet us @LendahandEU, or visit our Facebook page here.