We have the Power: where’s the Love, where’s the Justice.

by Leah Armstrong, Managing Director, First Australians Capital

“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.” 

– Martin Luther King Jnr

Over the past 6 months I have been deliberating the notion of Power. Who has power? How is power used? How can we disrupt power dynamics?

Inspired by the work of Joy Anderson from the Criterion Institute whose work is centered on disrupting systems of power, in particular, the power dynamics that come to the fore in finance and investing.  One of the key steps to disrupt power dynamics is to dismantle privilege through redistribution of resources.

“Resourcing patterns in fields reinforce privilege, as they do in many types of systems. The funder gravitates toward theories of change that reflect their own, and funding often moves in more significant volume to those who most mimic the status quo..”

In addition, I have been yelling YES, YES, YES, as I read through the powerful Decolonizing Wealth by Edgar Villanueva.

Edgar’s powerful expression on the colonial virus to divide, control, exploit and horde wealth is so true. Edgar speaks of money as medicine and offers the pathway for healing and progress when money is directed to the people closest to the need and have the solutions.  

For me it is not a matter of Indigenous communities not having the power, knowledge, experiences and solutions; fundamentally it’s about power without wealth equality/justice.  Having had the wealth extracted from our land, resources, and work to then be evaluated by institutions for our worthiness and risk potential as recipients to be given crumbs perpetuates the colonial virus.

During the past month First Australians Capital has been a sponsor of the Convergence Conference – Finance as tool to addressing Gender Based Violence.  We were pleased to be involved in the discussions with other Indigenous women sharing the experiences of Indigenous women and capital markets. The conversations have been uplifting and at the same time sobering on how far we need to go to build a just and equitable finance system.

First Australians Capital believe we need to imagine a bold and radical new approach to equitable wealth creation.

‘A changing ecosystem needs “radicals,” who bring fury and accountability and a vision of a new reality that breaks with currents systems.’

Cheryl Dahle, Flip Labs

We need to expand our imagination of what is possible.  To invest in innovative models that back the power within communities rather than seeing them as victims that need empowering or need government and corporates to save them.

Edgar Villanueva raises the question: What if funders no longer assumed that disadvantaged communities and individuals need to be empowered at all?  What if we acknowledged how powerful they are inherently are?

Instead of believing it is individual enterprises and communities that needed fixing – it was the market they operated in that need to change.

Here’s the Thing – We have intrinsic power.

Here’s the Thing – Indigenous businesses have the power to drive a new economy.

Here’s the Thing – what bold actions are governments, corporates, allies prepared to take to amplify this power within First Nations businesses and communities and build wealth equity?

October is Indigenous Business Month and this year’s theme is Powering the Economy.