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New St. Louis fund focused on social growth investment

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

For some investors it’s about more than making money.

Sustainable, Responsible and Impact (SRI) financial investments are becoming more common among both public and private investors.

Madaket Growth, LLC, a St. Louis-based investment company, is capitalizing on that trend. Founder ChristopherDesloge said they’re now starting the first SRI investment fund for qualified investors in St. Louis. (Those investors earn more than $200,000 a year and have assets of at least $1 million, excluding their home.)

In business since 2004, Desloge said Madaket’s investors asked for the new fund.

"They wanted us to design, build a specific fund investing in the general social space, and that we’ve done," Desloge said.

Called the Madaket Social Growth Fund, it will invest in small and mid-sized companies based on environmental, social and corporate governance criteria. Desloge said that means they’ll screen for negatives including companies that use child labor, unsustainable foresting, war material, or alcohol and gambling.

He said investors want to make a difference.

"They want to see their money put to work, and working every day in positive areas of environmental responsibility and renewable energy, fair housing practices, and efforts to support human rights standards," he said.

The first phase will focus on micro-finance, according to Desloge, providing small loans especially to women-owned businesses in developing countries. The next phase will concentrate on clean technology.

Desloge said the trend for social investment has grown considerably. The U.S. Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment reports that more than $6.5 trillion went into SRI investments in 2013.

"Being the first in St. Louis and being a very conservative town we anticipate either a jaundiced eye or a raised eyebrow," Desloge said. "Yet this is a very active area of investing on both coasts."

Madaket Growth LLC was originally known as the Desloge Consolidated Lead Company. The Desloge family owned a lead mining business until the 1920s. Christopher Desloge changed the name to Madaket in 2004.

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Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.

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