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Be the Earth Funds the Gaps
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Be the Earth Funds the Gaps
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Partners
3 April 2022

Be the Earth Funds the Gaps

How this hybrid organisation is doing philanthropy and investing differently.

This story originally ran in issue #69 of Dumbo Feather

Discussed in this Story

What is the origin story of Be The Earth and how has it evolved over the years? 

Be the Earth came to life by a shared ideal between Seth, our funder and founder, and Renata, our head of Philanthropy. Seth, also the co-founder of 42 Acres, a regenerative organic farm, nature reserve and wellbeing retreat, already had contact with impact investing and used the capital he had been gifted to bring positive change to the world. Renata, a Brazilian architect, had been dedicating over a decade of her life to social environmental causes as an activist and social entrepreneur. 

Together, they shared an idea to create an independent entity that had a particular focus on Indigenous rights and food systems, working in a more holistic and heart-based way, as opposed to relying on data or bureaucracy to guide decision making. The idea of having a team for philanthropy and a team for impact investments came from a provocation from Danny Almagor, Co-Founder and Chair of Small Giants, who sparked the idea of putting everything under the same umbrella, creating a closed loop model where each area feeds into the other, following the same vision regardless of the financial strategy. 

The couple started to experience how different backgrounds connected by a shared vision can ignite innovation, and the new model progressed further towards what Be The Earth is today: a hybrid fund that combines for-profit investments with philanthropy and other non-financial resources. This exists under a paradigm of diverse collaboration between different stakeholders that share the vision of a nurturing and regenerative future for all life on planet earth, combining diverse types of funding under a systemic approach to change.

How is Be the Earth doing investment and philanthropy differently?  

“What we see in traditional philanthropy are wealth holders that invest in very damaging industries, and typically donate part of their profits to projects that are addressing the harm caused by these same industries. We are refuting exploitative models and ‘learning by doing’ other possible models for funding regeneration. We have been calling this Creative Funding. Our approach focuses on furthering collaboration between those that actively strengthen regenerative economic systems. We are a relationship-based organisation and value the power of community. All our decisions and practices are guided by systemic thinking and feminine principles, with lots of space for self reflection, improvement and adaptation. Investments and philanthropic partnerships follow the same vision. Like fungi, we engage in reciprocal and interdependent relationships; we support our aligned network to be more resilient, and its success feeds and supports us. All of our profit under the investment side is reinvested or donated in, coming full circle.”   – Anne Rammi, Head of Comms & Community at Be the Earth. 

Tell us about your circular financial model.  

“We call ourselves a ‘hybrid organisation’ because we invest both for profit and not for profit. Despite the fact that these have opposing financial objectives, for us, they have the same ultimate goal and are assessed under the same impact principles. Rather than looking at it as two different things, I see our capital allocation as working on a spectrum. First we decide if an opportunity aligns with our vision, and then we decide what type of funding would best support the organisation or individual – ranging from unrestricted grants to equity investments. We need a balance of everything across that spectrum in order to continue to exist as an organisation. Investments that have positive financial returns allow us to allocate more capital as all of our profits are recycled into new opportunities. This intentional recycling of capital is the key principle of our circular financial model.” – Tessa Etkin-Silver, Investments Director at Be the Earth.

What are some of the investments that are exciting you at the moment?  

“The investments that are most exciting to me at the moment are not only the companies we’re looking at and what they are doing, but the relationships we are building with the team and the intentions and structures around the investments. We’ve been doing a lot of traditional equity investments historically which have an extractive intention, but more recently we have shifted to revenue based financing models to be more impact centric, to support decentralisation through grassroots ownership, and overall to align us better with our intentions of more decentralised, local and regenerative economies.” – Seth Tabatznik. Funder, Founder and Trustee at Be the Earth.

 You have a strong collaboration with farmers, activists, entrepreneurs, indigenous people and wealth holders. What have these partnerships taught you about collaboration?  

“What I learned through collaboration is that it makes processes much more dynamic, fun and efficient. Each of us have different expertises, and if we want to address issues systemically, we need various stakeholders perspectives – from grass roots activists to wealth holders. Collaboration builds trust and trust builds collaboration, and that gives space for innovation and less bureaucratized practices. When we collaborate and build trust, it creates space for practices like unrestricted grants, because we’re partnering with people that we genuinely believe will make the best use of those resources. Ultimately it becomes more about the relationships between individuals than institutions, which can take us beyond a specific project and transform the lives of those involved.” – Renata Minerbo. Head of Philanthropy and Trustee at Be the Earth.

Visit Be The Earth to discover how you can support their vision and help to bring positive change to the world.

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