Joel Solomon is a founding partner of Renewal Funds, Canada’s largest mission venture capital firm, at over $240m assets under management investing in Organics and Environmental & Climate Technology in Canada and the United States. Renewal Funds is GIIRS-rated, a founding Canadian B Corp (5x “Best for the World”), a “1% for the Planet” member, and recognized as ImpactAssets “Top 50 impact fund managers.”
At the Just Economy Institute, Joel helps facilitate and support evolving financial activists, who will influence the future of “business.” He is an advisor to many ventures, families, and not-for-profit organizations, and co-author with Tyee Bridge of Clean Money Revolution: Reinventing Power, Purpose, and Capitalism, a call to action to know where your money is and what it is doing to whom, in what places, right now. He argues society can and must move trillions of dollars from damage to regeneration. The book has sparked global conversations including a national Clean Money campaign in partnership with Bank Australia, the nation’s first customer-owned bank, including 72 credit unions and co-operatives.
Joel is married to Dana Bass Solomon, his life and business partner. They are kept busy tending to a number of ventures as well as growing much of their own food, connecting with the land and waters in British Columbia, and enjoying their dog, Ziggy.
Reflecting on JEI’s core values — Community, Interconnectedness, Transformation — which value speaks to you most, at this moment in time? Why?
Transformation. We need a huge wave of inspired, motivated, astute leaders pushing towards a new vision of the meaning and purpose of money, how to transform it into a tool for increased justice, inclusion, inspiration, and a powerful force for a better future for all. Tangible skills, shared values, and trusted relationships are essential, to support each other, cheer and guide us each forward. It’s essential to cultivate a growing network of committed financial activists who are building a safer, cleaner, and more just future for all. We need each other, in all our unique and committed passion, intelligence, and effectiveness.
What are a few things about you that would surprise other people?
I’m a “gardener” of food and flowers, and in the human realms. I love working diligently on a future that sustains and enhances, with equal opportunities for all to flourish. I’m deeply drawn to the uniqueness of people, our values, passions, viewpoints, capacities, courage, and creativity. Experiencing the depth, passion, and magic of inspired people, as ever more activated humans, is a priority for me. I learn, am fueled, and empowered, the more I learn about the miracle of people aligned, enough, on values, vision, and a better future for all, especially the generations to come who will experience the future.
What movement for a just economy, past or present, inspires you?
The U.S. civil rights movement, the questioning of large systems, and breaking open of oligarchical domination, that I experienced in the 60’s in the U.S. still inspires me. The liberational movements that emerged from and beyond that era have been guiding lights and represent learning experiences that have shaped me.
In the 70s and 80s I deepened my understanding of the unfairness of economic systems designed for domination and exclusion, which moved me into “financial activism.” I began an unfolding learning about what that might mean, how I could contribute through engaging all forms of capital, and sensing that this was a major untapped topic. The lockdown on how “an economy” was defined, the spoken and unspoken rules around it, and the highly distorted access constraints that left out so many people, became the major focus of my life’s work. We have such a long way to go in busting up that old paradigm.
I’m fascinated by — and love — the diverse, creative, and values-committed people rising to be great ancestors of future generations and the times ahead, that we must devote the best of ourselves to. Civilization and humanity is at risk. I learned to convene, show up, connect, be flexible, listen, and give tangible support to “people making the world better, who work to be good ancestors.” Relationships are the soil of inspiration and strength. We need each other.