Julia is an experienced founder and director of early-stage digital and renewable energy businesses such as Quiet Revolution and Engensa. She is now Chief Executive of Trillion Fund, a crowd financing platform for renewable energy projects.
We’re a big fan of Trillion Fund and admire its modern approach to finances and clean energy, so we’re delighted that Julia is our latest Pioneer. She tells us about Green ISAs, why you need to move your money and giving the Green Party more air time :
Tell us, in 20 words or fewer, about Trillion Fund
Our mission is to get as many people as possible to have a financial stake in renewable energy. We want to make green energy popular, a vote winner.
What motivates you?
Rebalancing the power between individuals and institutions: fixing things that are broken, wrong, unfair: reconnecting people with their money and making it part of their impact on the world. Making financial services transparent and democratic.
Ultimately I think people understand the need to consume and invest sustainably, we just need to create opportunities for them to choose sustainable alternatives and give them the incentives and the confidence to make the switch.
What is your greatest achievement to date?
My small part in changing the financial regulations to allow anyone to invest in crowdfunding rather than just people of high net worth and experienced investors – #wealthisnotaskillset
What are the challenges you face?
The double regulated worlds of finance and energy both of which have five or six big institutions that control the market. Creating a level playing field with the banks. Balancing climate deniers. Trying to keep my temper when talking to people who object to wind turbines. Trying to grow a company and build an industry and still be a great mum. Being a cyclist with curly hair. Working out how to get on Strictly Come Dancing – the list is endless.
What are you working on that’s getting you fired up and excited?
Green ISAs! So exciting and we are very nearly there. A new ISA, a nicer ISA where we lend money to UK projects and earn a tax free return. It will happen in 2015. Oh yes.
Where do you want to take Trillion Fund next?
We have just merged with Buzzbnk to extend our products from pure renewable energy to broader social investments.
We also offer white label services so our own investment in tech and regs and processes can support many more businesses. ISAs are the key development for 2015 so our focus is on building a secondary market ready to launch Green ISAs in Autumn 2015.
What can we, as individuals, do to make a difference?
Move your money! That might be savings, investments or even your mortgage or debt but be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Owning shares in BP makes you part of the problem in my book. Directly financing UK homegrown renewable energy companies makes you part of the solution.
If you were Prime Minister for a day, what would be the first thing you’d do?
The very first thing? Fire Pickles! Seriously, I would call in the head of procurement and tell him to change his criteria for government contracts to include sustainability. Then I would tell the Green Investment Bank to set up a £100m matched fund for community energy.
Then I would schedule a series of TV debates including the Green Party, and hold a referendum on key issues once a year. I could go on:
What’s the coolest project or product you’ve come across, and inspired you?
I love Kiva. It is the gift that gives on giving, literally the most satisfying thing I have ever done with my money.
Sustainability Without the Hot Air by David MacKay. But your readers have probably all read it!
What do you listen to when you’re cooking dinner?
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
‘If you want to be the head of eBA Juls, start acting like you already are,’ – Simon Dannatt, 1998.
Can you leave us with who’d be your Eco Hero?
I am a big fan of Sir Stuart Rose, along with Mike Barry and Richard Gillies – Marks & Spencer Plan A team as they were. Total mainstream and commercial sustainability. Now if we can just get them to do a Green ISA:
If you would like to support Trillion Fund, they are currently crowdfunding for the platform. You can read the pitch here but hurry, the raise closes on Friday 19th. *capitalatrisk