LAB FELLOWSHIP: Meet The Fellows #4

When we launched the Finance Innovation Lab Fellowship in March, we introduced the 16 innovators joining the Lab community as our 2016 Lab Fellows. We announced their names and the projects they were working on, but now it’s your chance to get to know them better.

We’ve already introduced you to nine of our Fellows; you can read their interviews herehere and here. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be interviewing the rest of the Fellows participating in this unique incubation programme and share how they hope to disrupt the financial system.


Say hello to Johnny Denis and his housing project

Johnny Denis

I want to help people to overcome their barriers to economic participation.

I have been creating and supporting projects and enterprises in the third sector for decades, and have been active in Green politics since the early 1980s and a councillor for the last 5 years. For much of that time I have been tackling social and/or ecological problems. Having perceived a local gentrification of housing and narrowing of the social mix over the years, it became apparent that something needed to be done and the state is no longer in a position to provide much support.

In the last year it became obvious that if I wanted someone to address the problem, it might as well be me.

Tell us about your project.

My project will address the unfair housing conditions which lead to a geographically segmented population at best, and at worst maintains high levels of rooflessness. I’m working on the provision of homes for people which are affordable, in which they have a stake and harnessing social finance and social capital.

If you could tell everyone in the world one thing, what would it be?

We have to learn to live, and live fairly, within our collective means. No one should be left behind.

Why did you apply to be a Lab Fellow?

I was looking for support and a confidence boost to get going with my project. The Lab Fellowship offered me plenty of support, a cohort of lovely Fellows and access to wide range of knowledge and interest from the Lab community.

When I met my fellow Fellows for the first time it dawned on me that we were about to embark on a unique process and journey and I wondered, what will we and our projects be like when we have completed our Fellowship?


 Say hello to Sam Gill and his project ET Index

Sam Gill

My father wrote a book in the late 90s outlining the concept behind Environmental Tracking. Now I’m turning my father’s concept into a reality. Over 300 volunteers and 5 years later, with a little bit of help from the EU’s main climate change initiative, ET Index was formed.

What is ET Index?

We rank the biggest companies in the world on their greenhouse gas emissions and link these to financial indexes. The objective is to provide investors with a mechanism for reallocating capital from high-carbon to low-carbon companies.

If you live in the developed world, you have money invested on your behalf via the government, pension funds, etc. If a portion of that money were to be invested via an Environmental Tracking Index, at a sufficiently large scale, we could begin to shift enough capital to change the demand for company shares in line with emissions.

I see Climate Change as the greatest challenge faced by our global society and I want to try and do something about it within the limited window we have for action.

Why did you apply to be a Lab Fellow?

I was interested in being part of a community of change makers.

What makes you memorable?

My devilish good looks and suave charms!


Say hello to Kat Davis and her project Flip Finance

I am passionate about social and environmental innovation but access to finance, especially on the right terms for the investee, is key a hurdle people and organisations face in trying to scale their solutions.

Through Flip Finance, I want to transform the way in which social investment products and services get designed and delivered. I believe that the current mismatches between the supply and demand side could be best overcome by involving users and investees in the creation of social investment solutions.

How did you get here?

I originally trained as an architect. My six years in professional practice instilled in me an understanding that real value is generated through processes that are done ‘with’ people, not ‘to’ them. Many of the neighbourhood planning projects I worked on with local communities were meaningful, however, three years ago I came to the decision that I needed a change of direction. I subsequently won a place on On Purpose, a leadership development programme for professionals wanting to transition in to social enterprise and responsible business, and haven’t looked back.

In some ways it was by chance that I came to co-found Flip Finance with Lab fellow David Floyd and others. Through the project I’ve gained a real interest in finance, beyond the practicalities of making a business work, and financial systems that people are ‘part of’, not ‘subject to’. So, you could say, I have travelled a full circle in my thinking!

If you could tell everyone in the world one thing, what would it be?

Stretch out to change the part of the world that is within your reach. From there keep adding – adding to, adding more – dramatic change comes from an accumulation of acts.

What do you need from the Lab community?

Critical reflection, collaboration and connection to people and networks that can help the initiatives emerging from Flip Finance to succeed and grow.

Tell us one thing no one would know about you.

I have a love of etymology (the origin and historical development of words). I have even been caught reading a dictionary a couple of times!


Click here to read about the rest of the 2016 Finance Innovation Lab Fellows.