In the first of our Concordia Young Professional Ambassador blog series, we sit down with Jon Nauert, Founder and Managing Director of Pioneer Capital Holdings, who shares his insight into the role of entrepreneurship, innovation, and investment in achieving social impact, and explains how Concordia has contributed to both his professional and personal development.
What brought me to Concordia in the first place was the organization’s vision of creating public-private partnerships. I was drawn not only to the discussions and subject matter being discussed at the Annual Summit and other Concordia forums around the globe, but the fact that the goal of these conversations was to inspire action and formulate solutions. To me, convening Heads of State with private sector leaders to formulate solutions to global issues has had a lasting effect on my worldview.
In terms of becoming a Young Professional Ambassador, it was really the wide diversity of Concordia Members—in terms of profession, background, and geographical location—that drove my interest. It’s incredibly exciting to meet people from places spanning Colombia to Greece and the Middle East, and to all come together to focus on a common goal of building partnerships to address a wide array of issues. This shared goal sparked my desire to become a Young Professional Ambassador, encouraging me to showcase the work of Concordia, to actively look for other individuals to join the organization, and to bridge the gap between the public and private sectors. Because, ultimately, I think that the more focus and contribution we can get from this young professional demographic, the more collaboration we will see, resulting in finding global solutions to the issues that Concordia addresses.
My career is enhanced most by the in-depth and timely understanding of public-private sector dynamics across the globe. For instance, when I was in Bogotá last year for Concordia’s Regional Summit, I was able to understand the international relations and diplomatic issues that the country was dealing with, regarding national security, trade, and entrepreneurialism. And that was undoubtedly helpful from an investment standpoint, as I have never been involved in business in Colombia or South America more generally. Outside of its Summits, Concordia does an excellent job keeping me apprised of key economic and international issues, as well as connecting me with like-minded individuals for both public and private endeavors. Thanks to this, I am able to have an idea of what’s going on throughout the world, and being able to utilize that knowledge has aided my decision-making processes as well as my contributions to important conversations.
The investment world, in general, is doing an excellent job of focusing on areas that not only create monetary value for investors, but also social impact. The majority of investment funds these days, across venture and traditional private equity, are conscious of climate change and issues of that nature; furthermore, they understand cultural sensibilities.
What first caught my attention in this field was the growth of demand in the sector: the requirement for food is going to jump between 40% and 50% over the course of the next 10 years, based solely on population growth. As a result, we need to find innovative ways to grow our food supply, and that is where Local Roots Farms comes in; the founders built a vertical farming company that grows food on par with traditional farms, yet utilizes 97% less water with no herbicides or pesticides.
Concordia has been an excellent organization as it helps me tap into my passions of investing, entrepreneurship, and international relations, largely due to the people the organization brings together. The members and participants span across academia, government, and business, providing in-depth and unique insight into a wide range of topics.
In recent years, the investment and nonprofit worlds have done a better job of working together on issues that make sense. For instance, I know of a group working in Phoenix—they are effectively a social venture fund focused on funding tech-related educational initiatives, because they see the broken education system and want to invest in ideas and programs that help children learn in a more practical yet fun way.
In terms of the most innovative project I have funded, I would definitely say that it is Local Roots. Local Roots was a pretty incubative and unforeseen technology, given that they created their own software and hardware from scratch and have been able to compete with traditional farming methods at an early age.