Making Change: How Women Are Building Wealth With Purpose

My grandmother had a profound impact on my life. After she passed in 2022, I often reflect on her life, and I’m reminded of a strong woman who helped shape me into who I am today. Growing up in rural Arkansas, I was steeped in traditional Southern norms where men were typically the breadwinners and held sway over financial decisions. However, witnessing the strength and resilience of women like my mom and grandmothers inspired me to challenge these norms and embrace a vision of equality.

These early experiences deeply influenced my relationship with money, fueling my commitment to empowering women to rewrite their financial stories.

I wear many hats as a passionate financial activist, entrepreneur and impact investor. Serving as the executive director of the Southern Capital Project (SoCap), founder and CEO of Alivest, director of strategic partnerships and business development for Invest for Better (IFB) and adjunct professor at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and the Clinton School of Public Service, I’ve dedicated myself to advocating for financial empowerment and gender equality.

Women & Economic Transformation

Stories of women seizing control of their financial futures are increasingly common. Instead of passively managing inherited wealth, they actively engage in strategic financial planning, philanthropy, entrepreneurship and impact investing. And they should! By aligning our financial decisions with values, women are catalyzing social and environmental change while securing our own financial legacies.

Women are also stepping into entrepreneurship at unprecedented rates, starting businesses that reflect their passions, skills and values. From tech startups to social enterprises, women-owned businesses are flourishing, contributing to economic growth and job creation. A 2020 feature by the Asset Funders Network highlights that, on average, female business owners have a total net worth approximately four times higher than the average total net worth of full-time working women, underscoring the importance of providing women opportunities to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors and fostering economic growth and empowerment within communities.

Established in 2021, SoCap was created to ensure women in the South have equitable opportunities to build wealth. Focused on entrepreneurship and investment as the keys to prosperity, its first priority is making business a pathway to financial success.

Research highlights a major hurdle: access to capital, especially for regional entrepreneurs. The need for flexible, low-cost capital is clear, and intentional design to remove barriers for women business owners is essential. One way to address this need is through microloans tailored to women-owned businesses, a crucial strategy we’ve put to work at SoCap through a partnership with FORGE.

Credit: Jason Masters
Jensyn Hallett

Led by a diverse board of 10 remarkable women, we’ve seen these impacts firsthand and have built a network of support organizations and financial institutions across the region. This network not only provides funding, but also invaluable local knowledge and connections.

The measure of success? More women receiving the support they need to thrive in business. Better still, the aim is to demonstrate how this model sparks economic growth, boosting incomes and creating jobs in rural communities.

Making Money Moves with Purpose

In addition to entrepreneurship, women increasingly recognize the importance of investing to build long-term wealth. They aren’t just passive participants in finance; they’re intentional investors. Whether through stocks, real estate or alternative investments, women are becoming savvy investors, seeking opportunities aligning with their financial goals and values. By diversifying their investment portfolios and taking calculated risks, women are securing their financial futures and generating wealth that can be passed down to future generations.

Impact investing is at the forefront of this movement, offering a way to generate returns while making a difference. Through initiatives like IFB, for example, women are learning to activate their assets for social and environmental good.

For three years, I led multiple cohorts of women, many from Arkansas, through a six-month impact investing curriculum with IFB. The mission is universal: to empower women in the U.S. and globally to understand the power of their investment assets, learn how to align their investments with their social and environmental values and activate those resources to make a more just and sustainable world for all.

Meeting Challenges

Despite these strides, challenges persist. Women continue to encounter obstacles such as the gender pay gap and limited access to capital, impeding their financial progress and inequality. Addressing these systemic barriers is crucial to fostering an environment where all women have the opportunity to thrive financially.

Moreover, traditional financial systems and institutions have historically overlooked women’s unique needs and preferences, further exacerbating disparities in wealth accumulation. Creating inclusive financial systems that cater to the diverse needs of women is not only a matter of fairness, but also an opportunity to unlock untapped economic potential and foster sustainable growth. Addressing these challenges and promoting gender-inclusive policies and practices can pave the way for a more equitable and prosperous future for all.

As we celebrate women’s strides in building wealth and driving positive change, I urge you to reflect on your own financial journey. What does building capital mean for your future? What values do you want your investments to reflect?

By taking the next step in understanding and shaping your financial goals, you have the power to secure your prosperity and contribute to a more equitable and sustainable world. Let’s continue to empower each other and pave the way for a brighter financial future for all.


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