Meet Mel Miller – an Envest Microfinance investor for the last 5 years, and now serving on Envest’s advisory board and investment committee.
Mel experienced a sustainable investment Aha! moment in the mid-1970s when he read about a new mutual fund (Pax World Fund) that incorporated investor values into the stock selection decisions. The primary issue of the time was apartheid in South Africa. As an investments professor at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, he brought this issue to his students. “I asked my students to search the Scriptures to justify their thoughts on the role of investments. Does the desire for profits outweigh the desire to make the world more just for all of God’s creation?”
Mel left full-time teaching in 1985 to work for Dubuque Bank and Trust and later for Heartland Financial. While in banking, his belief in social and responsible investing led him to create value-driven investment products. These products allowed clients to select both positive and negative screens for their investments and were so well received that they attracted clients from 26 states.
In 2012 Mel accepted the Chief Economist position at First Affirmative financial network that focuses on environmental, social, and corporate governance investing. While at First Affirmative, he met Jon Bishop and learned about the mission of Envest Microfinance Cooperative. “I know that making credit available to individuals ignored by larger financial institutions is consistent with the call to assist the less fortunate. As I hear the success stories from small entrepreneurs in Moldova, Uganda, and Kenya, to name a few, I know I am assisting in God’s call”.
Upon retiring in 2020, Mel and his wife Marie are enjoying international travel and visiting their granddaughters in Marion, Iowa, and Portland, Oregon.