Trevor Neilson and Howard Warren Buffett want to hold the “impact” sector accountable. This summer, Neilson, CEO and co-founder of i(x) investments, a four-year-old company leveraging finance for socially- and environmentally-driven companies, launched another event, adding to the roster of impact conferences. However, this one asks those attending to make public commitments on how their company is going to tackle a global problem: climate change, food waste, human trafficking, energy. “Gathering as business leaders to only talk about world crises and not putting action behind it is no longer acceptable. We need to act and quickly, especially to address the climate emergency,” Neilson says.
In the inaugural event, which took place in Santa Monica last month, they received over 300 commitments. These included Halogen Ventures committed to funding 100 female founders by 2025; LA-based startup Good Money to moving at least $5 billion from big banks to a values-based financial system where every customer is an owner; and Swiss company Mootral to removing 2 million tons of methane, which is the equivalent of 50 million tons of CO2 from the atmosphere per year by 2022. “I believe that we cannot rely solely on philanthropists and governments to solve the world’s biggest issues,” Neilson said after the inaugural Entrepreneurs Impact Summit. “We need to look to businesses and entrepreneurs to devote their time and talents, and investors and private sector capital to invest in scaling these solutions in a meaningful way. Businesses and entrepreneurs need to be held accountable for commitments made to really make an impact.”
Neilson comes from the world of philanthropy: he worked with Bill and Melinda Gates in the early days of their foundation, developed the Global Philanthropy Group which has worked with the Gates and Ted Turner to raise capital for projects, and has seemingly blended his days in Washington, DC politics with the frontrunners in impact.