Investor Spotlight: Georgie Teuten

When it comes to receiving money as a graduation gift, recent college graduates have no shortage of options on where to spend it. While putting it into a social investment fund might not be most popular option, recent UCLA grad Georgie Teuten decided to do just that. She sits down with RSF’s marketing associate John Meyers to discuss why she wanted to invest her graduation present with RSF.

John: Hi Georgie, thanks for taking the time to chat with me. So, I understand that there are certainly a lot of things you could do with a graduation gift, what influenced you to invest it?

Georgie: Well, the graduation present came from my grandmother, who recommended I pick something to put it into. It was easy to agree with her, as I’ve always been a pretty big saver and studied economics at UCLA.

I can imagine a lot of options came up when you were researching what to invest in. How did you end up picking the Social Investment Fund out of the crowd of other options? 

I have a friend who was really interested in impact investing. I Googled “impact investing” and first saw how enormous the concept was. After taking four years of finance classes, I came out realizing that our financial system is…deeply flawed and I wanted to act on something other than my own economic self-interest. To me, RSF and the Social Investment Fund seemed the most aligned in that respect.

Were you looking for something where your money could have an impact at a larger scale?

Yes. I had the opportunity to be involved with a lot of charity work while I was growing up and got to see first-hand how even modest amounts of money can be super impactful for charities trying to make a difference. So I was able to learn at a young age that money can have an impact. I would say my first move in my own life was realizing that money I had could do something impactful, instead of sitting in a low-accruing bank account.

Could you tell me about what sorts of passions or issues you saw in the world that helped shape your impact journey up until this point?

My cousin started a charity in England called African Promise. My family and I helped her bring it to the U.S. and called it Kids4Kenya. The premise was kids helping kids by building schools where they’re needed in East Africa and showing middle school students in the Greater Baltimore area—where I grew up—what’s out there in the world. It showed me parts of the world I hadn’t discovered yet, and led me to realize that people’s lives and circumstances can be so different from ours.

I was able to learn at a young age that money can have an impact. I would say my first move in my own life was realizing that money I had could do something impactful.

So, the opportunity of education is really important to you?

It is! More specifically, sustainable, lasting opportunities for education. One thing with Kids4Kenya that really stuck with me was how the organization emphasized the importance of using local materials and labor when building these schools and creating an infrastructure for the school system to develop and thrive. We did not want to just put a name on the school and then pack up and leave like “job’s done”. To me, that’s not creating lasting opportunity.

That’s a really good point. Pivoting back to the fund for a second, what are you hoping that your money makes possible at RSF?

I hope that my money goes into the hands of people that can and will do something constructive with it. I hope that they will use it to empower themselves and their communities.

Going back to what I said about not wanting my money to sit in a low-interest savings account, I think that parking capital in one place and using it to just build more and more wealth isn’t really the best purpose of money, especially when you realize that this money can be mobilized and work for people who could use it to make something better. I think it’s a missed opportunity.

I think that Millennials, by and large, like to be in control of their money and have a consciousness of where it’s going. Do you see the same?

I do because I think that there’s always been a lack of transparency of what’s going on with the financial system. I see a lot of people in our generation are getting the knowledge and gaining the confidence to ask questions to be completely in control of their money. Second, I think that Millennials are a more socially conscious generation, which translates to fiscal awareness.

So you’re throwing out the ubiquitous narrative that Millennials are spending whatever income they have on avocado toast?

Yes! Mainly because you can make avocado toast yourself without spending $12, you know.

Great answer. Lastly, now that you’re an RSF investor, do you want to shout out a borrower in the Social Investment Fund portfolio?

Guayaki! My friend from college now works there and really talks them up. I’ve seen their products around and was aware that it’s one of RSF’s largest deals, so I decided to look closer into Guayaki.  And so I was impressed after learning how much of their mission is dedicated to help build up the economies in South America and supply chains. It was cool to see something you can find in the grocery store have such a deep mission.

In fact, this is sort of funny, you know the festival Lightning in a Bottle?

I have.

I went two years ago with some friends and there was a Guayaki tent. I saw the staff showing people how to drink Mate the traditional way–serving it in a gourd and pouring hot water over it. I’d recently come back from South America and was able to show some of my friends the mate passing ritual that I learned there.

That must have been an awesome experience, the staff in the tent must’ve lit up when they saw you doing that like a pro.

One Guayaki rep expressed some appreciation to me and said he was happy to see someone share the tradition and spread the love and then gave me some mate to take home. That’s something that sat very well with me, as someone who’s pretty skeptical of big well-branded businesses, it seemed genuine rather than promotional, you know?

Right, that’s a great tangible gift showing a real connection.

I think so and I know that there are more enterprises that are like that are operating out here in the world. Excited to see which ones show up in RSF’s portfolio in the future.

I’m with you on that one. Until then, thanks for taking the time to chat.

You’re welcome!

John is a marketing associate at RSF.

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