Get to Know Calvert Impact Capital Staff: Jacob Garner

We're conducting a series of interviews with our staff, borrowers, and investors. We hope you'll follow along and get to know Calvert Impact Capital and our partners better. Our twelveth interview in this series is with Calvert Impact Capital staff member, Jacob Garner.

Name: Jacob Garner Title: Analyst, Loan Administration Tenure at Calvert Impact Capital: One Year Places you’ve called home: Houston, TX; Fort Worth, TX; Kara, Togo; Avignon, France; Rome, Italy Languages: English, Italian, French, Ewe, Kabiye

1. What do you do at Calvert Impact Capital?

I am an Analyst on the Loan Administration team. My main role is to shepherd deals through the closing process and confirm that all the terms in the loan agreements are correctly codified. I liaise with the legal team and investment officers to ensure that all our deals meet our expectations. I also have a corollary responsibility to keep track of closed deals in our loan portfolio and answering borrower questions about administrative issues.

My day-to-day work varies; some days I sit in on a legal calls and other days I’ll run data analyses on potential deals. While my team’s main role is to support the closing process, we liaise early in the process with investment officers to consider the mechanics of a loan. As the investment officers begin working on a deal, we begin partnering with them to review loan terms that might directly impact the maintenance of a loan, such as whether it's a fixed or variable interest rate, how many disbursements are available, or what the availability period is on the disbursements. We're there every step of the way as the loan terms are approved by our committees.

2. What excites you most about your work at Calvert Impact Capital?

I love working at an organization with a leadership team that is both intentional and mission driven. You can learn a lot about an organization by looking at its leadership, and everyone on the team really believes in our senior leadership team. I think that allows the organization to flourish because we all have so much confidence in them and their vision. Their leadership goes beyond just work, but also considers the wellbeing and work-life balance of staff. They understand that there are multiple priorities in life. Throughout the pandemic, we have seen this ethos play out as our leadership prioritizes our safety.

3. How did you get to Calvert Impact Capital, and more specifically, into impact investing?

I think a lot of my peers in the Millennial generation want to have a profession that makes a tangible positive difference in the world. For myself, my career path has always revolved around figuring out how I could best use my time and energy for the greater good. Originally, I got my degree in archaeology and worked on an archaeological dig in Italy. While it was an amazing experience, I felt like I was not actively making the world a better place for the everyday person. I started thinking about ways I could do that, and I subsequently landed an internship at the U.S. Embassy in Rome. While I was there some of the diplomats that I worked with encouraged me to join the Peace Corps and work in international development.

I followed their advice and in 2014 I joined the Peace Corps in Togo, West Africa. During my service, the most common problem local residents asked me to help improve was the lack of economic opportunity in rural areas. Many people did not have enough money for basic necessities. In an effort to help, I partnered with a couple of women’s groups in a village to begin an investment cooperative that pooled their money to make investments in the S&P 500. The women were able to earn a good return on their investment over two years, and with this extra money they were able to send their children to school, buy new clothes, help a sick relative, or buy a cell phone. It was extremely gratifying to be a part of their success. After Peace Corps, I decided to continue working in Togo at an NGO called Hope Through Health. I was a manager at a health clinic that specialized in outreach and treatment for HIV/AIDS. My time in Togo taught me that when you're working in a new place, it's imperative to listen to the people who understand the local context. Local stakeholders understand the needs of their communities better than foreigners. This may seem obvious, but some organizations can overlook this simple truth.

After my experience abroad, I decided that I wanted to make an impact through finance, but I didn’t have the requisite academic or practical financial experience to work in the industry right away. To remedy this, I attended Georgetown University where I received a master’s degree in International Relations with a concentration in global business and finance. After my program I wanted to work at place that would allow me to grow and learn from more complex financial systems. Luckily, Calvert Impact Capital hired me and they have provided me with an opportunity to simultaneously enhance my financial skills and make an impact.

4. If you could have a dinner party with any three guests, dead or alive, who would you invite?

I would invite three of the most famous leaders of the African decolonization movement: Thomas Sankara, Patrice Lumumba, and Kwame Nkrumah. I've recently read a lot about decolonization movements and have come across the works of these great men as they dealt with colonial powers such as France, Belgium, and Great Britain. I’m inspired by the courage it took for them to overcome the oppression and barriers created by decades of colonization in order to free their nations.

5. Do you have any reading or listening recommendations? (Books, podcasts, articles, etc.)

I recommend “Beggars in Spain” by Nancy Kress; it's a science fiction book about people who are genetically engineered to not sleep anymore. In the book, there’s an overclass of people in the world who don't need to sleep and are able to take advantage of eight hours extra in each day. It’s fascinating because I think eventually humans are going to try and use genetic engineering to create a “better” version of us. I would also recommend my favorite podcasts, Freakonomics and Pod Save America.

6. If you had to describe Calvert Impact Capital in one word or term, what would it be?