LAB FELLOWSHIP: Meet The Fellows #5

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When we launched the Finance Innovation Lab Fellowship in March, we announced the 16 innovators joining the Lab community as our 2016 Lab Fellows. Since then we’ve introduced you to twelve of our Fellows in more detail; you can read their interviews hereherehere and here.

Today we’re introducing three of our remaining Fellows; Julian, Ashley and Simon. Why not come along to one of our upcoming Lab Socials to meet the Fellows in person?


Say hello to Julian Lewis and his project LendLocal

As social entrepreneurship is pretty solitary, I applied to the Lab Fellowship to connect with others. 

I was a journalist covering banking, capital markets and derivatives for over twenty five years before I decided to harness that knowledge for social benefit. An MBA led me to research using the Kiva lending model in the UK.

To sum it up; I am a husband, dad, journalist, social entrepreneur, Kivan and Denmark-ophile!

What is LendLocal?

LendLocal is a new form of social investment. It’s a platform that lets investors collectively support loans by responsible lenders in financially excluded communities, such as CDFIs and credit unions. I want to address the UK’s chronic financial exclusion and counter exploitative lending, to put Kiva’s proven model to work in a new and needed context.

What do you want to change about the finance system?

The system’s disconnection from people, society, environment and consequences.

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

Eat your greens!


 Say hello to Ashley Lewis and her project Ongeza Fund

Ongeza is a liquidity management solution for investors focused on impact in emerging markets. We are looking to solve the lack of access to liquidity (the ability to convert shares to cash) for early stage investors and help to make impact investing more robust, inclusive, and circular.

After spending time on the ground working with and investing in social ventures in Africa and Asia, I realised that exits and liquidity was a huge concern for investors. I believe that by providing more consistent liquidity options for investors there will be more capital in the space and more ventures being supported, thus, resulting in more lives being impacted.

How did you get here?

I started my career in finance when I was 16. I went to my local bank with a hard copy resume and asked them to hire me. Since then I have had the opportunity to work within a number of firms including Goldman Sachs, Vanguard and the FDIC, but it wasn’t until I decided to quit my job at Goldman Sachs to join the Peace Corps in Togo, West Africa where I began to realise the impact of money on society. It was through my experience of scaling social ventures then going on to work in impact investing with LGT Venture Philanthropy where I found my “tribe”.

Why did you apply to be a Lab Fellow?

Community. I was looking for a group of finance system “challengers” to engage with and share my ideas and hopes for the future. Also, I would love to engage with Lab community members who are interested and engaged in impact investing, all the way from angel investors to Private Equity funds.

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

It’s up to all of us. We all have to turn inward and figure out how we can create a bigger positive impact to society.


Say hello to Simon Petley and his project Ecosystem Collateral

I want to change the balance of power.

I want to build a more accountable and democratic financial system. For such change a critical mass of people must believe it’s (a) possible, and (b) achievable. This means shifting popular awareness and understanding from abstract concept to discrete (if complex) constructs – unpacking immediate challenges, and building consensus and conviction around potential solutions and actions.

Tell us about your project.

Smallholders in the agriculture and forestry sector often struggle to access upfront funding needed to deliver sustainability – investments which, if made, would strengthen and protect their underlying natural capital. A key reason for this struggle is a lack of collateral to pledge as security against bank loans. The Ecosystem Collateral project is scoping ways in which natural capital could be utilised to close this gap.

Environmental markets are a fantastic tool for monetising sustainability benefits, but their design favours larger, better-resourced developers. Smallholders have a critically important role in transition to sustainable land management across the lesser developed world. There is an urgent need for an alternative, simpler incentive for sustainability amongst these players.

What do you need from the Lab community?

Inspiration, encouragement, friendship, connections, technical advice, occasional prompting… and patience!

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

Take a minute to stop, look and listen. Find three things to be grateful for everyday. And carpe diem!


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