How women could shift £1billion to green investments by 2030

Anneka Deva from Enrol Yourself talks about the success of the OwnIt pilots and how women could be a powerful force for climate action in a decade.

Anneka Deva06 Sep 2021

A crisis that feels big, urgent and overwhelming

When the recent IPCC report came out it said what we were expecting: the clock is ticking and time is running out. We knew this already. But there’s still something big about seeing every major news outlet featuring what we’ve known for a while: that the climate crisis thing is real, it’s big, it’s urgent, it’s here – and it’s now.

We know something has to change. We want to do something. But what can I do? My plastic straws and recycling attempts feel feeble when this problem is so global and systemic.

We know that the forces we need to influence are so much bigger than our own little bubbles.

So let’s imagine….

Pull out your time-machine for a second.  Set the clock to 2030. Imagine if by 2030…

There is a movement of 1000s of women around the world who are a powerful force for climate action and collectively have shifted over £1billion for the good of the planet.

In every major city and region around the world, we’ve visibly seen that women en masse are committed to moving their money for the planet.

1000s of women peer-support groups around the world have gathered around dinner tables and zoom rooms, to build knowledge, skills and confidence about their family’s and our planet’s collective long-term financial futures. Women have talked to their partners, their colleagues, their families about the power we’re all quietly sitting on -far greater than the power of recycling any cardboard box.

#ownIt group discussing finance over dinner
#ownIt group discussing finance over dinner Friends of the Earth

Through taking part in OwnIt, mothers (and grown-ups in young people’s lives), regardless of wealth or circumstance, are teaching their children, including their girls, about money. Not just how to get it and save it, but what a healthy, resilient long-term financial — and planetary — future looks like.

We’ve seen banks receiving 100s of break-up letters, and losing £10000s of money from customers, and they are worried. The conversation in every boardroom of every bank is about how meaningful climate action is business-critical to retain customers and become a bank that is genuinely trusted by this new generation of climate-conscious consumers.

Employers have seen their staff demanding to know where their pensions are being invested.  Corporations everywhere have realised that unless they stop pouring money into fossil fuels, they’ll lose valuable talent. Firms across the world have made green pensions a selling point of their employee benefits offers.

So how do we get there? And how do we know it’s possible?

People-powered change

At  Enrol Yourself, we’ve had a hunch for a while that the power of people supporting other people can help us tackle challenges together that feel too big and too complex and too tough for any of us to begin to tackle alone.

So when Friends of the Earth’s Experiments Team came to us in 2019 with the idea of an experiment about money, the climate crisis and peer-support, we leapt to apply what we’ve learned over the past four years about the power of peer-learning to their OwnIt experiment,

Moving our money for the planet

"Put your money where you want the world to go. It’s as simple and as powerful as that"— Christiana Figueres, Former Executive Secretary UNFCCC

The idea was this - what if we created a way for women to support each other to move their money for the planet? Why? We know we need to influence corporations and governments to invest in the future we actually value — and we need to show them that we mean it. With mainstream banks still funding climate destruction, with £2 trillion invested in the fossil fuel industry’s growth since 2016, and $50 trillion invested by pension funds globally, there is huge power in “voting with our pounds”. Most people, in the UK at least, are connected to at least one financial institution; whether that’s through their current account and/or if they are employed, through their workplace pension.

But we know that the old adage of ‘know better, do better’ really isn’t enough when it comes to taking real-life action. Sometimes we need a little help from our friends to go from wanting to take climate action to actually taking the leap.

Designing an experiment in peer-powered support

Together with system innovators at Friends of the Earth, we co-designed and launched OwnIt; a peer-support programme to help women take climate action with their personal finances. We trained women as Hosts who then ran 3 sessions for other women – friends, family, colleagues – to talk about money.

Some found themselves exploring their relationship to money for the first time, in a space that was supportive and where there’d be no stupid questions. Together they mapped out what actions they could take to move their money to work for the climate, and then groups supported each other to take action. They explored the idea of switching bank accounts, moving pension schemes, changing energy suppliers, making greener spending decisions, and for those who were able to, investing money in climate-positive ways.

Own It's hosts help women take climate action with their finances
Own It's hosts help women take climate action with their finances
It felt empowering and radical to discuss money, finances and actions with a group of women — the impact of this resonated with me on a much deeper level than I was expecting.— OwnIt Participant

And it worked

In our three pilots, in person in London and Bristol, and online during the pandemic, 140 women took part in OwnIt, and together, we moved £1.2million for climate action. Every woman who took part found that they felt more confident, more informed, and more able to actually feel in control of their long-term finances.

"I’m now far less fearful of tackling my finances, and also feel a healthy amount of responsibility to the group to get something done!"— OwnIt Participant

With the success of the pilots, we’re now looking to scale up OwnIt.

What if we can use peer-power to move £1billion for the planet by 2030?

So how do we get to this much needed vision for 2030?

Graphic showing how participation in OwnIt could grow and amounts of money moved in 3 year intervals
10x every 3 years Graphic Anneke Deva, Enrol Yourself

One step at a time

Our ambition is to scale the impact of OwnIt by a factor of 10X every 3 years between now and 2030.

All eyes on 2024

The next three years are focussed on scaling the impact of OwnIt, so that by 2024, we’ve moved £10million.

Our aim is to engage 2500+ women in OwnIt, through training 500 women to host a peer-support group in their community or workplace. OwnIt will train women to support women to learn, disrupting the status-quo of financial advice being tailored for men and taught by men. And we’ll connect these 2500+ women together, to strengthen our personal actions through a powerful collective voice.

Group of smiling women standing around a table holding up pledges and waving
OwnIt cohort smiling and waving Anneke Deva, Enrol Yourself

We’ll focus this next 3 years in scaling the model in the UK, but we’ve proven OwnIt can work both in person and online, so we’ll also be launching small-scale pilots in other countries to see what we can learn about how this works elsewhere, ahead of the next phase of scaling, from 2024–2027.

Scaling sustainably

In this phase of OwnIt, we’ll also test out a sustainability model, so that we can ensure the initiative has enough investment to scale to reach our £1billion goal. We believe in order to scale our impact by 10x and move £12million by 2024, we need £360,000 of investment; a return on investment of 333%.

If you know a funder who wants in on this, let us know.

Supporting employees to develop peer-support skills

We’re also looking for values-aligned corporate partners  to support employees in developing the important 21st-Century capabilities involved in hosting peer-support communities, whilst demonstrating their commitment to taking action on the climate crisis. For every employee a corporate partner trains to become a host, we’ll be able to train a woman in the community to create a peer-network of women taking climate action with their personal finances — and get one step closer to the £1billion goal.

I now have better relationships with my colleagues; clear actions I want to take; I am going to do some lobbying for the first time in my life; improved coaching skills; improved confidence facilitating and hosting similar things. — OwnIt Host

How can you get involved?

  • Sign up to our OwnIt mailing list here. We’ll keep you updated with the latest at OwnIt, including when we’re open for sign-ups in Spring 2022.
  • Do you know a senior leader who would be excited to bring OwnIt to their company? Share this with them, and invite them to get in touch with [email protected]
  • And — of course — start talking to your own friends and family about taking climate action with your finances, and create your own network of peer-support around you.

"What we do in the next ten years will profoundly impact the next few thousand". David Attenborough

Interested in how to bring peer-power to an ambitious challenge you’re tackling? Applications are open now for Enrol Yourself’s 3-day immersive training: Huddlecraft101.

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