With Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday behind us and the holiday season ahead of us, it is a time of year when we seem to be inundated by sales, discounts and offers from retailers of all shapes and sizes. How did shopping become a holiday? How did consumerism dominate a time of year that was about friends and family and spending time with loved ones?
In this month's newsletter, I highlight three companies that could herald another side to the retail industry. All three are examples of corporate venturing and impact investing.
Patagonia, the apparel company known well for their commitment to sustainable and environmentally-conscious manufacturing and safe, fair, legal and humane working conditions throughout their supply chain, established an internal fund called $20 Million & Change. Set up by the Patagonia Works arm of the company, Patagonia invests in like-minded start-up companies and aims to "change" the way business is done in their industry.
Seventh Generation, known for its eco-friendly cleaning and household products, took $30 million of investment from Al Gore's investment fund, Generation Investment Management, to invest in and purchase other companies that are equally committed to sustainability.
Most recently, I read news of Gap teaming up with investment fund Tau to create a $1 billion fund to to buy minority stakes in Asian garment factories, modernize them, upgrade environmental standards, improve labor conditions, and install technology to raise productivity and increase transparency.
I'll be watching this space and keeping an eye out for other examples of corporate venturing and corporate impact investors. I'd be curious to see what else emerges in other industries. Could more corporations use their influence in their respective industries to be activist shareholders and effect change? Could more corporations be leaders as investors? This is a trend I'd love to see continue and grow.
Happy holidays from me and Pique Ventures. Looking forward to connecting with you in 2015!