I confess, I have been trying to make capitalism work for achieving triple-bottom-line (TBL) objectives, but it is very difficult. Neither the rules nor the mental attitudes (even of liberals) for investing are a good fit for a people/planet/profit opportunity at a local level.
I have concluded that practically everyone is of two minds - literally - when it comes to money. One mind, of the philanthropist, will give money to good causes and expect nothing in return... even failure is tolerated as at least being an attempt to do good. But that same erstwhile philanthropist, when presented with investing the same amount of money in good deeds close to home that actually might return some dollars, will switch to a mind full of fear of the risk of loss.
I have been soliciting investors since last July to join the Trollworks LLC, for the purpose of raising the money to build what we call a Biochar+Energy Sys3, a pyrolysis machine that will take waste biomass, dry it, and make pelletized feedstock that can be stored and transported (holy grails of the energy markets) for use in pyrolyzers that will heat buildings. Both pyrolysis steps create heat and char, two products of substantial monetary value, and even greater associated TBL values. The system will sequester a pound of CO2 out of the atmosphere into the soil for every pound burned, and regenerate soil productivity in the process.
The machine in question is already under a three year lease contract to a grant funded pilot project, which will pay 150% more than its cost, operating just four months each year. Sounds like a no-brainer investment opportunity to me, especially for folks concerned about climate change. "Get paid for CO2 drawdown? Are you f*_king kidding me??"
Yet.... I have secured four investors so far, all friends of mine for whom trust in me as a person is not an issue - however trust in me to not lose their investment is an issue. I have been working on four more potential investors since last September, all climate and social activists who live in Colorado where a second pilot project is being developed. Basically the same scenario, the Sys 3 would be leased to the project for four months a year, doubling the ROI! But those folks, who do not know me so well, are perseverating over minutia in the company documents. Did I mention that the price of a membership is in the ballpark of what all of these people give away to good causes in the same period of time?
All of the same people have their life savings in 401Ks and normal investment vehicles where they generally know neither the managers nor exactly what their money is being used for (often it is being used by companies who are causing climate change).
I might actually have to borrow the money to complete the pre-leased Sys3.
Strange, ain't it?
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the old model obsolete.” – R. Buckminster Fuller