The problem we’re addressing in the finance and investment sector is that a lot of capital goes to waste because investors do not (sufficiently) take into account the human factor. We know that 65% of startups are failing because of people-problems: co-founder conflict is not uncommon; founders are twice as likely to experience mental health issues and 3x as likely to have substance abuse issues; a lack of organisational health and employee wellbeing fuels the surging prevalence of burnout and leads to more absenteeism and turnover. All of these factors implicate an organisation’s financial bottom line and its ability to achieve meaningful social impact. This lack of focus on the human factor does little to address the poor state of mental wellbeing in the workplace, much less the mental health crisis in society.
Part of the cause is the lack of accountability of investors. The conditions they set and the culture they, sometimes unwittingly, help propagate are detrimental to the wellbeing and founders and their organisations. Social impact funds, too, often focus too excessively on the social impact in the external world, and forget about the impact they can create by influencing and improving internal dimensions and conditions, such as organisational culture, structures, and policies. Indeed, it has been shown that purpose-driven teams are more likely to experience burnout.
Masawa’s Nurture Capital seeks to shift resources (time, value, and investment) to address the neglect of the human factor. Our Nurture Capital approach provides hands-on support to early-stage purpose-driven ventures, both in our own portfolio and to portfolio companies of other investors, to help them strengthen their internal organisational rituals, practices, and resilience, and focus their capacity for societal transformation. The program includes access to vetted personal development programs for founders and teams, a toolbox of resources for leaders and organisations, a network of advisors, and the wisdom of peers to maintain and bolster the learnings along the journey.
Masawa’s Nurture Capital approach is tailored to each organisation since challenges take a different shape according to the size, context, and maturity level of each team. We work with founders and their teams to design a Nurture Capital Plan that is in line with their needs and wishes and tackles the individual, the team, and the organisation as a whole.
Nurture Capital is predicated on the belief that a heightened focus on founder and team wellbeing will put the entire team in a better position to operate and transform the lives of others. Moreover, it would also help shape a new conversation about power dynamics between investors and funders, for the quality of their relationships would radically change. For example, more often than not, an investor’s funding conditions and demands weigh on the health and wellbeing of investees, affecting their unique potential and ability to create a healthy organisation. Rethinking them could create an internal impact for investors, which ultimately, creates a ripple effect impacting all stakeholders far outside the organisation. Nurture Capital is a new investment paradigm; a mindset that expands the accountability of investors to include the wellbeing of all, paving the way to healthy systems and thriving societies.
Insights / Advice to Peers
- Think about the wellbeing of your investee as their most valuable resource to nurture (basically what you have). Identify current systems, structures, and policies, both from your perspective as an investor/grantmaker as from the perspective of your investee/grantee, that may be beneficial or, on the contrary, harmful to the health and wellbeing of people. Your impact starts from the very first interactions with people, from how you talk to them (just checking in, as human beings, is a small but important intervention) to how you set your expectations.
- All outward work starts with inner work, not only for your investee, but also for you as the investor. When we become more aware of ourselves and our actions, and the different roles we play on a daily basis, we become better aware of the mindsets that influence or control our thinking, and how they may influence or control others.
- Normalising prioritising mental health (in the workplace and as a society) will require systemic change. Coordination, collaboration, and an amplification of the work is key for catalysing the seachange we need.
Niels Devisscher, Investment Analyst and Ecosystem Lead , firstname.lastname@example.org
Joshua Haynes, Managing Partner, email@example.com
 Masawa supports organisations to maximise their human factor, which means developing and augmenting their own ability, and that of the people they serve, to thrive as whole human beings.