Jasper van Brakel, former head of Weleda North America, will lead the pioneering social enterprise funder in its next phase of innovation
RSF Social Finance has named Jasper J. van Brakel, former president and CEO of Weleda North America, its new CEO effective March 19. In addition to offering proven leadership—van Brakel built Weleda’s brand in the U.S. and Canada and oversaw substantial growth—he brings impact-driven investing experience and a deep connection with RSF’s values to the position.
“When I heard that RSF is looking for a new leader, I was immediately excited and intrigued,” van Brakel said. “The people who are most inspiring to me are those who take a radical idea and execute it brilliantly in the interest of the whole, bringing ideals from 30,000 feet to ground level, where they can truly work to bring about change. That’s what RSF does as an organization, and it’s what all of RSF’s donors, investors, borrowers, and grantees are doing.”
Impact finance exerts a strong attraction for van Brakel
Van Brakel has long felt a pull toward impact finance. After a long executive career in Europe and North America with Weleda, a pioneer evergreen company committed to organic and biodynamic wellness products, he became a partner in Newpark Capital, which provides private equity for lower- to middle-market impact-driven companies. He also is an advisor to Armonia, a family office that makes long-term investments in projects promoting regeneration, and serves on the corporate boards of two impact companies.
“Jasper is a seasoned executive with experience that spans various for-profit and nonprofit purpose-driven organizations,” said Mark Finser, chair of the RSF board of trustees. “His experience leading Weleda, which is committed to organic and biodynamic wellness products and was co-founded by Rudolf Steiner in 1921, gives him connections to many of RSF’s borrowers as well as to RSF’s mission and values. Together with our outstanding executive team and staff, Jasper will further our goals to revolutionize the way people relate to and work with money.”
RSF has an opportunity to build on its biggest year
Last year was RSF’s biggest ever: it surpassed $200 million in assets and flowed more than $50 million in loans, investments, and grants to organizations with high-impact missions. RSF has the potential to lead on a larger scale, van Brakel said, by continuing to come up with convention-challenging initiatives and building on its existing path-breaking programs. These include community pricing meetings, where investors and borrowers confer on fair interest rates; Shared Gifting Circles, which turn grant making on its head by having the grantees distribute money among themselves; themed philanthropic funds called Collaboratives that support innovative early-stage social entrepreneurs; and the Integrated Capital Institute, which teaches financial activists powerful strategies to leverage capital as a tool for long-term change.
“RSF is the clear leader in integrative, catalytic capital in North America,” van Brakel said. “At the same time, I see the potential to benefit from current trends and expand RSF’s impact in the world while staying true to the organization’s principles and values.”
Sarah Grolnic-McClurg, Thinkshift Communications
This post was originally published on RSFsocialfinance.org
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