Jessica Norwood

Project Description

The SOUL’utions project brings community investing with heart and soul to an African American community in order to build a base of local investors that is deeply rooted in constituency building and the disruptive ideas of collaborative finance and ownership models.

The rules are changing for investing. The Securities and Exchange Commission changed its rules for crowd-based investing for non-accredited investors (those who make up the 99% who have less than $1 million in assets) by opening up the investment field for people to invest dollars in the businesses they care about.

Opportunity for socially minded community investors is growing. Online platforms like Kiva and Indigogo have grown from $1.5 billion in transactions in 2011 to $10.9 billion in 2015. As the community investment field grows, what are the models that will bring vulnerable communities in as financial stakeholders? How is the community investing space going to respond to culture and place? Can a critical mass of investors of color have an impact on livelihood indicators, such as income and job creation? These are the guiding questions that will drive the development of SOUL’utions project.


Jessica Norwood is the founder and executive director of the Emerging ChangeMakers Network. She is a tireless activist committed to the cause of community investing. As a leading social entrepreneur in her native Alabama, Jessica labors at the intersection of empowering grassroots leadership and facilitating innovative entrepreneurial ideas. As an expert on addressing issues of economic inequality, Jessica has shared her considerable expertise as lead consultant for the following entities: the Center for Social Inclusion, Black Land Loss Prevention Project and Leadership Capacity after Hurricane Katrina; Oxfam America, Coastal Communities Land and Water Restoration Policy; and Managing Director, League of Independent Voters, League of Young Voters Education Fund and the League of Pissed-Off Voters PAC. Jessica Norwood advises on issues of emerging leadership, voting rights, community investing and rural wealth creation with a specific emphasis on African American communities.