This is the first in a series of collaboration stories featuring JEI fellows and alumni who have worked together to shift the flow of capital and power. This post features Joel Solomon of Renewal Funds, Manuel Vega and Matilde Olazabal of CO Capital, and Jasmine Rashid of Candide Group and forthcoming author of “The Financial Activist Playbook: 8 Strategies for Everyday People to Reclaim Wealth & Collective Wellbeing.”
“I consider myself a modern elder,” shared Mexico City native and JEI Fellow, Manuel Vega. “That brings me great joy and motivation, and keeps me oriented to the future, and the present.”
Learning and working alongside one of JEI’s founding facilitators, Joel Solomon, these “modern elders” are nurturing the emergence of an economy that is more just, connected, and joyful in Mexico and beyond. “Everything’s more fun when it matters,” said Solomon, “There is a lot to do, and I’ve tried to live my life in a way that embraces the responsibility of that hard work, while having as much fun as possible.”
After decades in mainstream finance, and as a grandfather, Vega found himself seeking something more in his work. When he discovered JEI, he sensed it was a community where he could learn and unlearn. He participated in the 2018–2019 fellowship cohort and discovered a kindred spirit in Solomon, whose own family was growing in Mexico, through marriage and grandchildren. It didn’t take long for a vision to come into focus.
Vega, along with his wife, Matilde, also a JEI fellow (2019-2020), their partners and associates, designed and hosted the first CO_Day, an in-person gathering of investor families in CO_Capital’s first impact investment fund in February 2023 in Mexico City. They also participated in the Latin American Impact Investment Forum (FLII2023) where more than 700 people gathered in Mérida, Mexico, to consider new ways they might have a positive impact in their communities, and in the world, by activating their capital differently.
As the keynote speaker in both events, Solomon shared his own journey, of his privilege inheriting some wealth, and then being asked to manage the wealth of another. Decades later, the investment firm he created, Renewal Funds, remains one of the largest and most vibrant mission capital funds in Canada.
“Joel’s guidance has been invaluable, helping to design our impact investment fund,” Vega shared. “Along with my wife, Matilde, and our partners, we continue to accompany other wealth holders as we all try to give a different meaning, mission, and purpose to our money and our assets.”
Vega appreciates his role as a “modern elder” in his new fund, working with his partners in their early forties. “In the last four or five years that we’ve been together, they have seen, we have all seen, the benefits of having different generations on a team. It is so powerful to have multiple perspectives, as we break from ‘business as usual’ prejudices and taboos, about who does or does not have wisdom, or the best idea.”
“When you are in your sixties or seventies, retrospective and perspective work in mysterious ways,” Vega went on. “It really helps if you engage with joy and respect. And with your heart in resonance with your brain. It can mean a lot to younger people who are struggling about how to go about business and leadership.”
Connecting across generations is critical to how JEI supports emerging leadership, at all ages. JEI Fellow Jasmine Rashid, the youngest in her cohort at 26 years old, shared, “I have so many deeply intentional, intergenerational relationships with folks who I otherwise wouldn’t even have met. Even if we work in different sectors or have different approaches, we’re all working towards this shared goal of a radically better economy.”
Along with a brilliant team of co-facilitators and advisors, Solomon helped launch JEI and has participated in the first six cohorts. A lifelong learner and financial activist, he reflected, “There’s a lot of blood on our money. How do we get people to pay attention to that or care about it? We tend to accumulate and concentrate power and repeat cycles that a lot of us don’t pay attention to, and we don’t reflect on who suffers on our behalf. Every opportunity for conversations, insights, and commitments that are about something more than simply accumulating power and wealth is so critical. Communities like JEI, where people gather and support and challenge each other to go deeper and with more meaning, and to be more responsible for our lusts and our greed, can balance the complexities of this existence towards long-term futures and future generations.”
As Solomon shared about his life’s journey with those who gathered for the two events in Mexico, Vega could see hearts and minds opening. “I could sense that the feelings of immense gratitude and immense hope that I get from JEI were beginning to spread.”
“We work with Mexican families with wealth who struggle in difficult conversations, across gender and generations,” he said. “It means so much to have others accompany them in the process of asking new questions about old habits. Being present and sharing our conviction, and our experiences, as a multigenerational, multiracial, multigendered team, helps everyone get a small sense of what I have been grateful to experience in the JEI community.”