Change Maker: An Interview with Jorge Newbery

Jorge Newbery

Jorge Newbery was one of the first people I met when I joined the crowdfunding world. I heard him speak forcefully about how he used the trials of his past to bring about massive change in his personal life and to create a business that could change other lives too.  That business is American Homeowner Preservation, a crowdfunding platform that pools underperforming mortgages into investment vehicles while allowing financially at-risk tenants to stay in their homes. It’s like a neighborhood stabilization program wrapped up in a crowdfunding website. Jorge and I recently spoke about his work.

EP: What gets you up every morning?

Jorge: 76% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. 43% of Americans spend more than they make. In 2013, the average net worth of America’s 400 richest rose by $800 million each, while the median net worth of African-American families dropped to $4,995, poorer than the average household in India. For the sake of everyone, rich and poor, we must correct this situation. The rising income and net worth gaps in our country must be reversed. American Homeowner Preservation helps mitigate this situation. At this point, our impact is very, very modest. There are millions of families in need and we help just thousands. We need to attract more capital and strengthen our infrastructure and processes in order to help many more families.

What do you love about what you do?

AHP is a market solution to a social problem. With Wall Street’s often-predatory financial products, there is typically a winner (Wall Street) and a loser (consumer). AHP generates strong returns for our investors, but it’s not off the backs off consumers – it’s by sharing the discounts we negotiate with the banks and hedge funds which sell us non-performing mortgages. The only perceived “loser” is the banks and hedge funds, but they are selling to us at prices they would sell to someone else for, so even the banks and hedge funds “win.” To answer directly, I love that we can deliver transformative financial solutions to struggling families and generate strong returns for investors.

How did you happen on crowdfunding? What does it solve for you?

I saw an Angel List listing for RealtyMogul in early 2013 and made an investment in their first online offering: that was my introduction to equity crowdfunding. The ability to share our offerings was the biggest for me. Now, with Regulation A+, we also have the ability to accept non-accredited investors with investments as small as $100, which ties in perfectly with our social mission: it’s no longer just the rich helping the poor, but now just about anyone can participate.

Fund Your Dreams

I first met Jenny Kassan at last year’s SoCap conference in San Francisco. I liked the unusual stance Jenny has taken as an SEC attorney.  She helps women find the right sort of money for their businesses, not just any money.  And I love that she doesn’t just wear an attorney hat.  She’s put herself right into the middle of things by leading a Regulation Crowdfunding raise with a group of like-minded people on WeFunder.  Together they raised over $400,000 for The Force for the Food Accelerator Fund. Wow!

Jenny makes me feel like there must be an army of women out there like me, building up businesses that seek to do good while searching out the right tools and the right money.
And Jenny is providing those tools. Later this spring, she’s hosting “Fund and Fuel Your Dreams,” an event in Oakland, CA. Beginning on March 30, Jenny will be convening a three-day meeting for women looking to connect with socially conscious investors and to prepare their businesses for long-term, sustainable growth by connecting with the right money.

I’m going.  Want to join me?  Jenny’s offering my friends a discount here –  just use the code “IMAGINE2017.”

welcome

Hi, I’m Eve. If you’re on this site, you probably know a bit about me already. But if you want to know more, click here.

I launched this site to talk about the things I’m most interested in: crowdfunding, cities and how to make change. This is where I’ll let loose on topics ranging from building a remote business to how zoning affects the performance of a city to what it takes to build a real estate crowdfunding portal. (Don’t be surprised if the occasional food or music post hits the blog either.) And I’ll be talking to some of my favorite people too: come back often to read interviews with the people I think are making the most change in their communities.

Bookmark the blog. Stick around. Stay a while.

conversation

There are so many inspirational conversations happening around city and place. If you can filter out the national noise and rancor, it’s pretty clear that people everywhere are convening in many ways to find serious solutions that make our cities, towns and neighborhoods better places to live in. These conversations focus on a shared vocabulary of sustainability, inclusiveness and equity, but elevate those words from catch-all terms to reality.

Over the last few months I’ve been to Chicago, twice. (RealCap and Place Lab Salons). I’ve been to New York, San Francisco (SoCap), Los Angeles (GreenBuild), briefly back home to Pittsburgh (p4) and then last week to Cincinnati for the “People Investing in Place” convening.  My travels have centered on crowdfunding and its potential impact on cities but that’s just one little slice of the pie. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of other conversations going on on how to make our cities better places for everyone.

“People Investing in Place,” hosted by People’s Liberty (an outgrowth of the Haile Foundation) was a particularly interesting convening. Every year, People’s Liberty provides several fellowships and a bunch of project grants to a new breed of young people, all motivated to make Cincinnati better. People’s Liberty believes these people are the future leadership of Cincinnati, so while they are investing in projects that make places better, they are also investing in people.  It’s a terrific program, but still, the small People’s Liberty team want to do better, want to do more.

Fifteen of us convened, from lots of other cities, and brought our ideas along with us.  We shared projects, thoughts and commonalities.  We prodded People’s Liberty (and ourselves) to take more risks and new directions. I have 15 new friends now, all who care about cities as much as I do.

This is the culture committed to repairing our cities. We are all makers, remaking the places we live in. Crowdfunding just happens to be my tool.  What’s yours?