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Movers and Shakers

Ideas that are making waves in the world

Movers and Shakers

The last drop: Can smart tech save potable water?

Water is essential for all living creatures.

That makes the way we relate to water emotional, political, financial, and environmental all at once. Every human being on this planet believes his or her right to water is sacrosanct. We have even gone so far as to adopt resolutions about water rights within the United Nations.

Movers and Shakers

Swell Interview: Jed Emerson

This pioneer impact investor explains how to activate total value. 

Jed Emerson is a leader in the impact investment space and heavily invested in the creation of nonprofits. In addition to his role as Senior Fellow at the Center for Social Investment at Heidelberg University, he has held positions at Harvard, Stanford, and Oxford business schools. He is co-author of the preeminent books on the subject Impact Investing: Transforming How We Make Money While Making a Difference and The Impact Investor: Lessons in Leadership and Strategy for Collaborative Capitalism. Jed currently acts as the Chief Impact Strategist at Impact Assets and serves as senior strategic advisor to ultra-high net worth families around the world. 

Movers and Shakers

Know These 3 Steps Water Takes to Reach Your Glass


You should know these facts about your water and where it comes from.


You wake up in the middle of the night. It’s hot and you’re thirsty, so you stumble into the kitchen, grab a glass, and turn on the faucet. In no time, you’re drinking a tall glass of clean water.

Well, that depends who you ask. It’s easy to forget that the process to find, treat, and distribute clean public water requires technology, infrastructure, data, physics, and — you guessed it — natural resources. This process plays an integral role in protecting your health, supporting agriculture, and keeping our societies running smoothly.

So what exactly happens to produce that glass of water in the first place? It all goes down in three steps:

1. Pump, pump, pump it up.

Public water comes from either ground water (sources deep down in the earth called aquifers), or surface water (lakes, streams, and in some cases even ocean water). Pumping stations help extract water from its original source, and deliver that water to a treatment facility.

2. Treat yo’water.

All water is not created equal. That’s why the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created regulations around the water treatment process. Public water utilities filter and treat water with specific chemicals that remove impurities, so the glass of water coming out of that tap is potable and safe to drink.

3. Distribute wisely.

Though invisible to the eye, the U.S. water pipe network stretches 700,000 miles (that’s more than four times the length of our national highway system, in case you were curious), and serves 240 million Americans. Because of the complexity of the system, engineers run simulations to determine important factors like the pressure levels and pipe size.

Each of these steps represents different types of technology, hardware, systems, and infrastructure. However, according to the EPA, 40 percent of all American waterways do not meet national water quality standards, due in large part to leaking sewer systems. A burst pipe, contaminated water source, or dysfunctional treatment system can cause disease outbreak and negatively impact human (and environmental) health.

The good news? A lot of companies, organizations, and initiatives are working behind the scenes to keep our water flowing well into the future. So the next time you feel dehydrated, raise a glass to the pipes, meters, pressure systems, and companies that make access to clean water a daily possibility.

Movers and Shakers

Here’s why our oceans hold our future

In celebration of World Oceans Day, here are 5 facts about our oceans to keep in mind and heart. 


Oceans absorb around 30% carbon dioxide produced by humans, buffering the impacts of global warming.


Should all the glaciers and icebergs melt in an instant, sea levels would rise 262 feet. Enough to fully submerge most coastal cities in the world.


It is estimated that air pollution is responsible for at least one-third of toxic contaminants that are dumped on a yearly basis onto our oceans.


Humans have documented space and other planets better than they have mapped the ocean floor. It is estimated that only about five percent of the world’s oceans have been totally explored.


Oceans serve as the world’s largest source of protein, with more than 2.6 billion people depending on the oceans as their primary source of protein. 

Movers and Shakers

How one company saved California tons of water.

 Plus other news from companies in the Swell portfolio that are making an impact.


California American Water 
launches award-winning communication campaign.

What’s the impact?
Reducing water use in California by 15 billion gallons.

During California’s recent drought, California American Water, (an American Water Works Co. subsidiary) helped their customers reduce water use by more than 15 billion gallons over an 18 month period. To do this, the company created a campaign using social media and smartphone apps. “Our customers around the state took the drought seriously and reduced their water use by 26 percent,” said Richard Svindland, President of California American Water. “The emergency is over and we should applaud that, but keep in mind that water efficiency is a California way of life.”  Read more

Movers and Shakers

A Beginner’s Guide to Impact Investing


Bad news: Global temperature is on the rise.
Good news: So is impact investing.

From air pollution to global warming, our planet is put under more duress with each passing day. Luckily, it’s not all up to the cosmic forces. There are ways we humans can get involved to slow down or even reverse these effects.

One way is by supporting industries and services that are focused on making a positive environmental impact. 

Movers and Shakers

The Birth of Swell Investing

Swell CEO Dave Fanger shares how he and the team created a better way to invest.

Five years ago, in the middle of a long-haul flight from New York City to Los Angeles, a lightbulb went off in my head.

What if impact investing was available to everyone, not just high-net worth and institutional investors?

Movers and Shakers

10 Things to Know About Impact Investing

As impact investing moves into the mainstream, how do you know what’s relevant and important?  

At Swell, we believe impact investing should be accessible and clear to everyone. That’s why we’ve prepared a quick guide to help you navigate the world of impact investing.

Movers and Shakers

The Slow and Steady Rise of Impact Investing

We take a closer look at the ‘impact’ behind impact investing.

You can't practice impact investing withouth access to high-quality data from publically traded companies. Corporate carbon emissions, worker safety standards, toxic waste policies—investors need to see all this info and more, or they’re shooting in the dark.

Luckily, there’s a ton of information like this available these days. Which might lead you to assume that the recent surge of sustainable investing products came from a sudden, benevolent willingness of companies to collect and provide this data.

But no. There’s actually a long history of shareholder activism and protracted legal battles to thank for the trend. Decades ago, socially-responsible investors (and the non-governmental organizations [NGOs] they formed coalitions with) began fighting hard for increased corporate accountability and transparency. Slowly, steadily, their efforts have paid off.

Movers and Shakers

The Art and Science of Impact Investing

How can impact investing add value? To find out, we'll need to find key differentiators.

Research is the foundation of every investment strategy. Income statements, balance sheets, cash flows—are all valuable inputs that point to a company’s overall financial health. But for impact investors, these aren’t the only considerations. We think it’s important to understand a company’s impact on people and the planet, too. This is where the art of impact investing can be a key differentiator, and where we believe we add value at Swell.