I had breakfast this morning with a friend who is involved in a new venture called Renew Strategies. I was really excited by what I heard about the firm. Renew is a for-profit investment strategy firm that connects investors with small to medium size enterprises in Africa. Don’t take my word for it, check out their investment philosophy for yourself.
Renew sees its ideal investor as someone who wants “healthy financial returns coupled with social impact.”
Ervin “Magic” Johnson wrote a column in today’s USA TODAY entitled “Urban areas deserve investment, not fear.” Johnson has spent his post-basketball career investing in urban development, specifically providing entertainment and shopping options to under served communities.
Johnson writes that business leaders will find success with the following blueprint if they just get past their fears:
Diversify store locations
Hire senior staff that represent and understand the needs of a particular community
Market and cater to the needs of inner-city customers
Johnson states that it is hard to understand why major businesses have stayed away from the inner-city demographic.
It’s no secret that inner cities are heavily populated with minorities — particularly African-Americans and Latinos. This is a rapidly growing demographic with tremendous purchasing power. By 2012, these two groups will have more than $2 trillion to pump into the economy. Yet, many major businesses largely see more risk than reward in these neighborhoods.
Target just opened its first Washington, D.C. store in the neighborhood of Columbia Heights. Columbia Heights is a gentrifying neighborhood in Northwest Washington. It will be interesting to see if Target caters to the multiple needs of the diverse community, or whether it will offer the same product offerings as it would in any of its stores in the Metro D.C. Target stores.