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An Investigation into Financing Transformation


Downloadable/printable .pdf document


June 2021


This report was a project of Catalyst 2030 – Working Groups 5 & 11, in partnership with Bounce Beyond and Cattail Strategy

Lead Author: Steve Waddell
Project Team: Suzanne Bowles, Tomas Carruthers, Ian Kendrick, Jonny Norton, Gurpreet Singh, Steve Waddell


This report describes the current situation in transformations finance with the outline of an associated proposal to form an Action Learning Hub for Transformations Finance.

Executive Summary

An Investigation into Financing Transformation

The urgent need to connect capital to today’s megacrises is widely recognised.  This project started with this concern and the vision of creating a group of financiers – foundations, high net worth individuals and other investors with strong interest in transformation – to respond to today’s many megacrises.  This group would do this by developing both their own capacity for, and the structures and processes needed to support financing transformation where social entrepreneurs have a leading role.

After initial interviews in January 2021, the vision changed for two reasons:

  1. It was apparent that a major impediment to financing transformation was the separation between financiers and those they finance and creating a group of only financiers would further reinforce that impediment
  2. Transformation financing requires innovation in a range of activities where putting together the finance is only one.

This led to a reframing of the project to identify a broader range of actors including financiers, grantees/investees and others who could collectively bring together the knowledge and resources to form an “ecosystem for financing transformation” (EFT).  After a few interviews after this reframing, it became apparent that people were already working to develop such ecosystems and some are already operational although the term EFT was not used by them and they did not think of their work as creating financing ecosystems.  This finding led to a second reframing, with the goal of identifying EFTs and developing an initial understanding of their challenges and structures.  

Following subsequent activities, including two meetings and a survey of those interviewed, a collective vision emerged around the opportunity to co-create a community of practice for those working on EFT development, in which they rapidly advance the financing and field of transformations finance.  This brief report on this exploratory journey is presented through the following findings:

  1. Transformations finance is distinct from progressive capital.
  2. Transformations finance has distinctive design characteristics.
  3. There are numerous and varied examples of EFTs.
  4. EFT organisers are facing a shared set of challenges.
  5. EFT pioneers value the benefits that would come from collaborating with individuals and organisations.

The analysis demonstrates the importance of the presence of an agent to get EFTs up and running.  This is common in the transformation and birth of deep innovations. New identities, language, relationships, skills and ways of thinking must be developed.  An agent who supports and fulfills these roles is termed an EFT steward. 

The examples of EFTs are impressive in their diversity of investors and focal concerns.  Their diversity means they are developing solutions to generic issues such as climate change and transforming landscape management in different ways.  Those leading their development are generally unaware of others also working to develop EFTs.  They have been focused on their own development, and differences in language leads to their isolation. With assertion of the term “transformations capital” and the concept of EFT, there is a basis for bringing together people from diverse backgrounds leading to great acceleration in the development of the field of transformations finance. 

Developing a new field of activity such as transformations  finance is a huge and urgent task.  People involved in this task are working in small islands, generally without awareness of each other. Their work deserves rapid acceleration so their pockets of the future form powerful systems of transformations finance.  This report describes the current situation in transformations finance with the outline of an associated proposal to form an Action Learning Hub for Transformations Finance.

Webinar launch of An Investigation into Financing Transformation report

In the Media

Transformation Capital

Impact Entrepreneur Website | 18 September 2021

Written by Steve Waddell and Suzanne Bowles

Transformations Capital: The Rising Frontier

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