“At a young age I was already acutely aware of economic and racial segregation, growing up in a divided community on Long Island,” shared Jasmine Rashid, Director of Impact at impact investing firm Candide Group, and a Just Economy Institute alum. “I always had this interest in social justice and racial equity — and in the background, the role that money plays in all of that — before I had the language for it.”
An emergent financial activist was born.
“I started college as an economics major, but I just couldn’t wrap my mind around these concepts that felt so detached from reality,” Rashid said. “We weren’t talking about people and power, we were talking about numbers and equations. I decided to craft a special major in Peace and Conflict Studies instead, focused on social change theory of larger systems, and things started to click into place.”
After leading and participating in grassroots campaigns to divest investor capital from extractive industries, with a focus on mass incarceration, Rashid came to realize that as much as she honors and appreciates divestment work, she gets more energy and comes to life when she’s working with others on the investment side of things. In other words; co-creating real alternatives to the systems of inequity she studied in college. “It’s more sustainable for me to work on building new systems and contributing to that hopeful, joyful future and economy that we deserve.”
The Just Economy Institute fellowship was a perfect fit — a community where Rashid could hone her critique, and more importantly, develop the connections, insights, and courage to embrace her own voice and expertise.
After that, there was no looking back. Hard at work on her first book, tentatively titled The Financial Activist Playbook: 8 Strategies for Everyday People to Reclaim Wealth & Collective Well-Being, Rashid credits the JEI community with giving her the confidence needed to pursue such an ambitious goal. “The idea of myself as a book author — at the time I was 26 — was overwhelming, and that imposter syndrome still shows up. But by the end of the fellowship, when I was presenting my creative capital project, it was really just naming what seemed obviously mine to do: like, I’m doing this book, because the other fellows helped me see I was the right person for that work.” When she signed her book deal with Berrett-Koehler Publishers in April, the JEI community were among the first she shared the news with, in the spirit of a collective win for financial activists everywhere.
You might be wondering, what exactly is a financial activist? Rashid spends a lot of time thinking about that too.
“To me, a financial activist is someone who believes that we deserve more than what’s currently happening in our economy. We deserve more pathways to not just stability but flourishing, at the individual and family level, and also at the community and economy level.” Being a part of JEI offers a structured way to focus on activation of capital in all spheres — the personal, the interpersonal, the systemic. “A financial activist is someone who wants to live in a more sensible financial system, who wants to make sure their actions, even in small ways, are aligning with building a system that is more equitable and sustainable.”
The Financial Activist Playbook isn’t designed just for people passionate about economic justice or those who already have significant financial wealth to redistribute. “The audience I’m targeting wouldn’t necessarily call themselves financial activist[s]; they may be interested in social change and improving conditions, but probably aren’t spending every night in someone’s basement organizing the next campaign. I’m trying to reach people who have the right intentions and the right motivation, giving them an on-ramp to see themselves reflected,” she shares. “In this work, change doesn’t happen because of mystical, singular, expert leaders. Everyday people, working class and middle class folks, who are often left out of conversations about money, wealth, philanthropy, and investing, have way more power than we’ve been told to shape the financial system where we are. The book is meant to help anyone who’s interested access to some of the tools, strategies, and insights that I’ve been given through JEI, as well as the stories that so powerfully nourish and inspire us to keep innovating.”
Rashid’s role in the JEI community is only deepening, as she currently supports the team on facilitation guidance for incoming cohorts.. She is eager to “continue bringing intentionality, openness, and emergence to this joyful, powerful, and generous community.”
The Financial Activist Playbook will be available in September 2024, with pre-orders opening up later this year. In the meantime, Rashid hopes that anyone who’s curious about financial activism is willing to “just start somewhere. I happen to work in the impact investing field, that’s my profession, but you don’t have to actually be a financial intermediary or dedicate your whole life to becoming a financial expert to be a financial activist. Even small actions with deep intentionality add up. As long as we’re connecting to one another, in community.”
Jasmine Rashid is a financial activist, writer, and impact investing professional. In her role as Director of Impact for Candide Group, she helps investors flow tens of millions of dollars to predominately women & BIPOC-led social justice-focused companies, funds, and organizations building the economy we deserve. Her forthcoming book, The Financial Activist Playbook: 8 Strategies for Everyday People to Reclaim Wealth and Collective Wellbeing, will be available in Fall 2024 with Berrett-Koehler Publishers.