Barron's: 5 of the Best Books on ESG and Impact Investing

Activate Your Money: Invest to Grow Your Wealth and Build a Better World

By Janine Firpo

Janine Firpo worked for Hewlett Packard, Apple, and the World Bank, and deployed technologies and projects for social good in Africa and Asia. She then wrote this book to help women get more comfortable with impact investing. After all, women allocate to—and contribute front-line knowledge about—real-world impact investing, though this book should be a desk reference for every impact investor, male or female.

Women control 50% of today’s wealth—a number expected to grow to 65% in a decade—and 45% of millionaires are female. Women also typically earn higher investment returns than men, by 0.4% a year, according to Fidelity. Yet only 2% of venture-fund managers and 2% of mutual fund asset managers are majority owned by women, according to the Knight Foundation. Firpo recommends embedding gender criteria in investment policies.

Firpo covers all asset classes. Portfolios, she notes, can have more impact with community-development financial institutions, including funds like CNote, a women-led impact investing platform; in green-bond ETFs; or in venture funds like female-led Zebras Unite. Her book also encourages giving via donor-advised funds and collaborative investment clubs, and discusses how to pick a financial advisor or even a robo-advisor specializing in ESG.

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