“For every problem, there is a solution.”

When it comes to solutions, the best ones solve a number of problems at once. Unfortunately, the world isn’t short of problems at the moment. But luckily, we also have plenty of solutions too. Let's take a look at two of the problems we’re facing:

1. More investment is needed in climate action
We’re just 6 months away from the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, where countries of the world will gather to discuss collective action against the global threat of climate change. A key topic of discussion at the summit will be the mobilisation of green investment to fund a resilient, zero-carbon recovery from the COVID crisis. 

Ethex believes that, while the outputs from COP26 are critical to our fight against climate change, action at grassroots level is also key to an inclusive, sustainable recovery and motivating people to ‘green’ their finances is a core element to achieving this.

2. There’s a gender gap in investing
It’s a well-documented statistic that women in the UK hold fewer investments than men (21% of women and 35% of men according to YouGov). For many reasons women are less likely to invest their money and this is particularly true when it comes to pensions. According to a study by the Chartered Insurance Institute, by the age of 60-64, women in the UK have an average pension wealth of £35,700 — one-quarter of the amount held by the average man. 

But with more women than ever earning an income, the problem lies more with their understanding of investment products, this is hardly surprising as according to Good Money Week 58% of women don’t think financial institutions understand their needs. And women are also more motivated to use their money to do good, 83% say they care about where their money is invested and 79% of UK women regularly donate to charity, compared with 70% of men.

The challenge
Putting all of these facts together, leads us to a particular challenge: How do we make it easier for women to take climate action with their personal finance? 

At Ethex, we have been passionate about solving this challenge for many years. We’re on a mission to help more women start investing positively, s

The solution
OwnIt started as a pilot project from Friends of the Earth's Experiments Team, using workshops to test their hunch that building confidence through peer support and a safe space is what’s needed to help women address the barriers to aligning their own financial choices and security with protecting the planet. 

Ethex was happy not only to get involved with these workshops which crystallised the idea of using the power of peer support to motivate and inspire women to make change with their finances, we (Ethex and our sister platform Energise Africa)  also jumped at the chance to become founding sponsors as well as getting involved as part of ‘OwnIt’s’ strategic advisory board and by really spreading the word about how this approach can really empower a generation of women to become climate finance savvy and move their money in ways that create real and lasting positive change when it comes to protecting the planet.

So, together with peer-learning specialists Enrol Yourself, and supported by Ethex and Energise Africa, Friends of the Earth's Experiments team piloted a series of groups to enable women to share their experiences of money in a safe space that encouraged them to support each other to take action. Following testing in London and Bristol in 2019, they went on to train 15 volunteers to host groups in their homes, workplaces, parenting groups or around a table in the pub or cafe. And in 2020 in the wake of the pandemic, they piloted OwnIt online with women moving their discussions from dining tables to Zoom rooms.

OwnIt groups help build financial confidence and empower women to align their money with their values through a peer-accountability model. This sees women being trained as trainers who then connect with their peers, who participate in an OwnIt 'mini-programme' of 3 sessions. 

And guess what? It’s working! OwnIt is proving that simply by getting a group of friends or colleagues together, women are better able to turn climate change concerns into action, improving their financial literacy to boot.

"I've moved my current accounts to Triodos and Nationwide from Barclays. I am now investigating better options for my pensions."
OwnIt participant

 “It felt empowering and radical to discuss money, finances and actions with a group of women - the impact of this resonated with me on a much deeper level than I was expecting.”
OwnIt participant

The results
The outcome of the trial went beyond proving the hunch that a peer-support approach to finance was key to motivating women to invest sustainably. 

To date, as a result of the project, 140 women have moved £1.2 million, through actions such as moving their pension provider or making their first ethical investment. And:
- 28% of women moved their bank account
- 20% of women moved their pension provider
- 20% made an ethical investment
- 100% feel more able to take action with their finances

Through our support and funding of the project, Ethex has been excited to be a part of the OwnIt journey so far and the results are giving us renewed hope for our vision of all women feeling confident to take action with their personal finances to reflect their values.

The future
Following this highly successful pilot project, now OwnIt is ready to scale up its actions, rolling out the Ownit training programme on a larger scale with the aim of moving £1 billion in assets by 2030. Can they do it?

We’re certain they can and the success of the OwnIt pilot proves it. But to successfully roll this out and achieve their goal, OwnIt needs more backing and is looking to the countless organisations for whom gender equity, climate action and/or finance innovation are a high priority to help. 

Organisations working with OwnIt could help both themselves and OwnIt reach their goals quicker, either by supplying some of the additional funding they need or by taking the step of training their employees as OwnIt hosts.

Can you be a part of it?
As founding sponsors of OwnIt, Ethex is dedicated to helping them reach more potential sponsors, funders or partners, so we’re asking our networks if they, their employers or peers could benefit from getting on board.

You can find out more by visiting the OwnIt web page and attending their event on 25th May from 1.30-2.45pm entitled 'Bridging the Gap: financial inclusion, gender equity & climate change.' The free online event is aimed at employers who are invested in addressing these themes. The OwnIt team are cooking up a great panel of speakers, and they will present the full case for backing this innovative and successful solution to two of the challenges we’re facing.

Investments offered on the Ethex platform are not readily realisable, which means that they may be difficult to sell and you may get back less than you originally invested. Investments are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) and returns are not guaranteed. If you are in any doubt, you should contact an Independent Financial Adviser.

Investments offered on the Ethex platform are not readily realisable, which means that they may be difficult to sell and you may get back less than you originally invested. Investments are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) and returns are not guaranteed. If you are in any doubt, you should contact an Independent Financial Adviser.