Impact Investing with Erik Fast
Jesus had so much to say about money – how we should think about it, what we should do with it. When he was teaching on the mountainside, he encouraged his followers to store up their treasures in heaven. He said, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
Erik Fast is the Managing Director of M6:33 Capital, an investment firm dedicated to investing in kingdom-purpose companies.
What is Impact Investing?
Smart investments realize a return. Typically, the investor is seeking a financial return, but Eric argues that there can be more than one type of return on a given investment. “Anytime you talk about impact investing, you’re thinking about getting a financial return alongside another return that you care about,” he says. “It may be a social return, or an environmental return, or a faith-based kingdom return. We are prioritizing kingdom returns above financial returns.”
As manager of the M6:33 fund, Erik looks for Kingdom-purpose companies. He defines these companies in four ways:
- Business as Mission – Companies that have a Kingdom purpose – a plan for Kingdom impact – that is equal to their financial business plan are in many ways a for-profit ministry.
- Great Commission Companies – Companies that use their business as a platform for sharing the Gospel provide an opening to these countries.
- Freedom Business – Companies that do not exploit trafficked people
- Christian Media – Christian movies and media focused on reaching audiences with a gospel message.
Example One: Farming in the 10/40 Window
Erik’s firm works with a company that specializes in cutting edge farming. They grow a high value food and control the entire vertical of their operations – seed harvesting, processing and packaging, branding, and distribution into multiple regions across Asia. They enjoy extremely high demand for their product. That company happens to operate their farms in a majority Muslim country that has little to no Christian influence.
Their farming operation, because it is a legitimate business, allows them to serve as a beachhead for bringing in Christian workers whose goal is to share the gospel. This company is working to start underground churches. M6:33 Capital is helping this company raise funds to expand and open additional farms. Doing so will allow them to hire more indigenous workers and have an expanded presence for sharing the gospel in that region.
Example Two: Ministry and Community in Dubai
In Dubai, M6:33 Capital is working with a company that manages multi-family housing units, like dormitories, for migrant laborers. This company partners with local ministries, and their vision is to create significant spiritual and social impact while providing market-based financial returns for their investors.
“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
According to Erik, The laborers come from countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and the Arabian Peninsula. The workers move to Dubai to escape extreme poverty and to provide for their families.
This company buys dormitory-style buildings in and around Dubai. They rehab the building, give these workers a great place to live with access to food and community, and they minister to them. The company has built relationships with ministries who work with the residents of these dormitories.
“They are working at the crossroads of cultures just like Paul when he went to the Romans.”
“They are working at the crossroads of cultures just like Paul when he went to the Romans in his day to meet people who have been traveling all across the continent,” says Eric.
Example Three: Sharing the Gospel Through English Language Training
M6:33 Capital also works with companies based here in the United States. There is a company headquartered here in California that provides online English language training to students living in the 10/40 window. Their target markets are those countries that have a burgeoning middle class, increasing internet penetration, and a high demand for English language training.
“The countries that are most hostile to the gospel often have a high demand for English language training,” Erik says. But what makes this company unique is that they do their training online over virtual reality headsets. Also, they employ former YWAM, Young Life, and Cru students to be the trainers. So these employees know how to share the gospel.
These trainers systematically weave in the message of the gospel by making it part of the conversation around American culture. They will talk about how to get through an American airport, and what to do when you check into a hotel. But then they will say something like, most people in the U.S. go to church; here’s what a church looks like on the inside; here’s what people believe in church.
So they have a way of talking about the core tenets of Christian faith with their students – sharing the good news of the gospel – by weaving it into a conversation about American culture. It’s brilliant.
Balanced Returns on Investments
These are great companies, to be sure, but what kind of return will an investor receive when they back them? This should be the question on every investor’s mind. Is an investor making a concession on their financial return because they are prioritizing a kingdom return through an impact investing fund like this one? Erik responds to this question by looking at it from another angle.
“What if we flip that perspective on its head and look at it from an eternal perspective?” asks Erik. When someone makes an investment in the mainstream market, they are not thinking about the kingdom return. That investor may be conceding a return from an eternal perspective. You’re conceding eternal rewards with this investment.”
“In fact,” Erik continues, “you might actually be doing the opposite of storing up treasure in heaven because you’re investing in companies that might have an anti-life, anti-family, or otherwise immoral agenda.”
These are the questions with which every investor must wrestle in light of their investment goals. But if you are looking for a fund managed by smart people who are doing the hard work to identify strong companies with a kingdom purpose, the M6:33 fund is a great place to start.
Erik Fast has worked with foundations, corporations, and high-net worth individuals who want to use their charitable capital to create social impacts for the last eighteen years. Through the work he has done at multiple institutions of higher education, and also as a frequent conference speaker and consultant, Erik has helped many organizations set, measure, analyze and communicate Kingdom and social impacts to donors and investors. Erik also is an effective team leader who has a great deal of experience assembling networks of individuals and organizations to reach common goals. In his career, Erik has led teams and divisions that have raised approximately $50 million in charitable dollars.