Social Entrepreneur In Residence
Erika Seth Davies
Founder, Racial Equity Asset Lab (The REAL)
Erika Seth Davies is a recognized national leader in racial equity in impact investing and founder of Racial Equity Asset Lab (The REAL). A former ABFE executive, she designed and directed the SMART Investing initiative, which advocated for inclusive investment management practices to engage minority- and women-owned asset management firms in endowment management (resulting in a shift across the sector regarding diversity, equity and inclusion as applied to endowment investment policy, practice and strategy. She also led initiatives at Leverage the Trust, a campaign engaging black trustees of foundations to embed a racial equity lens. Additionally, Erika advises Common Future’s Foundation Circle and funder learning programs.
Through Common Future, the REAL is leading a place-based effort that will build the capacity of CDFIs and small business technical assistance providers to serve Black, LatinX and Native American businesses and increase investments of responsible growth capital for business expansion and quality job creation in Baltimore City. The REAL functions as a laboratory; it is a place for experimenting, observing and developing approaches to impact investing that advance equitable outcomes and center racial justice. The REAL connects a network of people who represent different elements of the impact investing ecosystem and are working to challenge extractive advancing equitable outcomes. This involves consulting circles to assess policy and practice and offer advice on how to advance racial equity, convenings for shared learning, and partnership to provide accountability to investors. The REAL leverages research and data to identify disparities and inform strategies to mitigate the effects of bias, open avenues to opportunity, and produce more equitable outcomes.