Published: Aug. 16, 2019

First Peoples Worldwide is announcing a new research initiative to deploy large-scale, impact-driven capital exclusively to Indigenous communities while realizing social benefits alongside return on investment. The research will contemplate and model a first of its kind investment vehicle that brings together private equity, a focus on Indigenous Peoples, and renewable energy development. 

Investors are increasingly seeking to invest in private equity vehicles that align with social equity and environmental sustainability, and there are untapped opportunities in Indigenous communities. First Peoples seeks to catalyze this connectivity by modeling a new investment product. First Peoples will focus research to be consistent with Indigenous values, environmental stewardship, and financial excellence. 


This project flows directly from First Peoples’ mission to work from a foundation of Indigenous values to achieve a sustainable future for all. First Peoples will research an innovative financing model that seamlessly integrates Indigenous values into all of its structures, and then deploys capital directly to Native communities, entrepreneurs and entities. The vehicle contemplated will operate according to impact investing principles and ESG to generate sustainable financial and social benefits for investors and communities alike. 


Impact investments are defined as investments made with the explicit goal to generate beneficial social and/or environmental impact alongside positive financial return. With this new research, First Peoples asserts as a founding principle that any investment in Indigenous communities is per se an impact investment.

The focus of this research will be in the United States, where the history of economic development in Indian Country has tended toward temporary infusions of capital in high risk industries (e.g., gaming, fossil fuels, cigarettes, and payday lending). Even where tribes have successfully accessed capital to build their economies, the nature of the risk assets often results in a shaky foundation whereby tribes cannot properly assess and manage social, environmental, and financial risk.


Nothing like this has been done before. Although private equity capital does exist in Indian country, it is project specific and generally driven by funds only focused on ROI and not on social impact. Currently, there are no single private equity funds that exclusively invest in Indigenous communities and center their philosophy on positive social impact. This has led to an unworkable and asymmetrical system of power, leadership, and access to capital.

As one tribal leader stated when looking at a potential deal: “These guys come in for the short term, make their money and leave...but this is our land, and we’re here for life.”

A private equity fund provides options for a vehicle that can provide capital to a wide range of projects because it effectively manages risk over time. The current investment products are either so narrow they are difficult for institutional investors to access or so small that they do not sufficiently round out an investor’s portfolio. This research initiative proposes widening the vehicle to be inclusive of all types and sizes of projects. 

Our model will build capacity for success by fusing tribal and financial leadership in every transaction, adding talent at the C-suite level to work in partnership with tribal business leadership. 

A private equity vehicle allows Native entrepreneurs and Tribes to structure receipt in ways that are consonant with their self-determined goals. Tribes are then able to truly share ownership and build equity in their tribal ventures, rather than go through an intermediary. The goal will be to reserach and model financial vehicles that deploy capital to Indian Country aligned with the rights of Indigenous Peoples in both its means and its ends. 


We recognize that an endeavor of this type will only succeed at the pace of building trusted partnerships. For more information please contact us at