Masawa

Impact like we mean it.

Impact, like we mean it.

The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervener.” 
– Bill O’Brien

This understanding sits at the core of how we think of impact at Masawa. If founders and organizations aren’t investing in their own wellbeing, then they can’t be expected to meaningfully contribute to solving today’s massive mental health crisis. You have to walk the talk.

Masawa Rings of Social Impact

This is of course easier said than done; the path to impact is non-linear.

External impact – your theory on how you are going to change thousands (millions!) of lives – is at best, based on a combination of solid evidence and sound assumptions about your product or service and its business delivery. But it also requires continuous flexible, creative, and critical thinking to incorporate new information as it becomes available, and upgrade the initial impact model. Just as early stage business models pivot for survival, impact plans must continuously evolve, especially for start-ups, and as they scale.

There is a vast opportunity to make meaningful social change without compromising on substantial financial returns. The internal rate of return (IRR, a key profitability metric) of impact funds is 2.1X greater than that of comparable non-impact funds. This is why at Masawa, we invest in companies that share our laser focus on measurable impact and create products or services that meet real needs. We work with these investees to craft a theory of change, co-create impact metrics, and provide hands-on expertise to support measurement, evaluation, and research. This approach leads to outsized gains, both financial and social.

However, none of this is achievable in the long run if the business at its core isn’t healthy, if the humans who are the business aren’t healthy. This is what we think of as internal impact. At Masawa focus on supporting our investees’ organizational health more broadly – that is, their organizational ability to effectively use resources to execute a vision, and to respond to changes and setbacks with resilience and innovation. Masawa co-creates a development plan with each investee, tailoring our suite of offerings to address the goals and needs of each organization. This includes services like coaching and training, key connections across our network, and advisory services to maximize wellness and organizational effectiveness.

This is because we’ve known for years that culture – how people work together – is a strong predictor of financial performance. We also know that what founders do early on matters for the organization’s long-term success – evidence points to strong path dependence of early choices on future outcomes. Unfortunately, a focus on founder resilience and organizational culture is not the type of support that traditional investors focus on, (although it seems like the even banks are finally catching on to the importance of workplace mental wellness).

2020 has been a year that has challenged us all to aim higher and dig deeper; it has slapped us awake to the need to take care of ourselves and each other, and to pour our efforts into drastically changing the doomsday future that awaits us in only 100 seconds. We cannot reverse the train of doom if we aren’t mentally well, a wellness that, for our part, is accomplished by emphasizing and enhancing both investees’ internal impact of organizational health and external impact of increased mental wellness.

Masawa: Year One 🥳

Masawa: Year One! 🥳

Masawa Artwork Mentalmorphosis

The world is a beautiful place, inhabited by beautiful creatures . But there’s a whole lot of unbeautiful imbalance going on .

A year ago, today, on my 40th birthday,  I announced that I was starting Masawa, the mental wellness impact fund. So what’s been happening this last year?

Most exciting is that we have brought together an impressive group of people (now a full team and advisory board!), raised some money, and are making our first investments. More significantly, we’ve done a lot of learning, testing our assumptions, and crafting a structure that aligns to our values as an organization dedicated to using capital to address the mental health pandemic. A few key things have stood out:

1. Mental illness is a very real, silent pandemic. A Masawa is more relevant than ever.

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, which has brought more attention to this largely stigmatized and under-budgeted dilemma, depression was the leading cause of disability worldwide + mental illness was poised to cost the global economy $16T in lost productivity cumulatively by 2030. This year swiftly brought this to the front of everyone’s awareness.

Encouragingly, the number of scientifically-backed approaches + corresponding private sector innovations, are quickly increasing. It is thus the perfect time for Masawa to invest in teams transforming mental wellness, while nurturing that capital to ensure maximum impact, internally (org health) and externally (financial + social returns).

2. The start-up investment systems is - still - aligned for profit, not for transformation.

Start-up capital, a needed accelerant for increased innovation and social change, is inefficiently and expensively deployed and measured. (Frankly, the entire economic system needs a fundamental overhaul. But baby steps). In the start-up market, investor competition and an exclusive focus on financial returns are caustic to founder mental wellbeing – 2x depression rates, 2x suicidal ideation. How this isn’t seen as a risk to success (even just financial) is shocking.

Moreover, capital is still not being leveraged in a transformational way, one that recognizes the world as complex and adaptive, embeds systems-thinking in the investment life-cycle, and nests financial power synergistically among non-investable components.

3. Mental health is a complex systemic issue, not just a healthcare problem.

Seemingly intractable existential problems like rapid climate change, biodiversity loss, economic inequality, deep seeded historical social injustice, as well as increased polarization and radicalization, stem from a society that is fundamentally mentally unwell.

Ours is a society driven by a fear of scarcity expressed through over-consumerism, a lack of safety making us retreat from and other that which we do not know or understand, and a need to be seen that leads us to hunger for power over others and cling to it at all costs.

We need to return to basics: to first and foremost check in with ourselves and make friends with what we find. To be open, honest, genuine, and imperfect, while equally valuing the same in every other being we encounter. This also means recognizing that our own prosperity and well-being does not – cannot not! – come at the expense of someone else’s. Quite the opposite.

This is why so much of our focus, both within Masawa and with the investees that we will support, centers on making sure founders, and founding teams are putting in the work to be mentally healthy themselves. Only with that grounding, can successful and resilient businesses grow, that are equipped to take on the problems of this lifetime and have lasting impact.

There is much work to be done, but the wave is building and we are ready to ride and steer it.

In closing, here’s a poem I wrote as part of the Shuttleworth Foundation application, in response to the question “What change do you want to make in the world?”:

In ten years…

We talk openly about mental illness

with a refreshing, joyful, happy willingness.

My depression and anxiety isn’t seen

as any different than a sprained leg or COVID-19.

Life made whole, much more enjoyable

by a surplus of innovation and proven explorables

like mindfulness, nutrition, gene therapies

software, hardware, AI, entheogens.


My company is measured by the lives it embetters,

not only by profits or its ability to repay debtors.

My investors believe that my mental wellbeing

is paramount for creating the changes we’re seeing.


New incentives to cooperate openly with competitors

has completely shut out the financial predators

who now find it difficult to maintain their cause

of single-focused greed and avarice without pause.


Innovations abound in function not just form

those like convertible grants, reverse bonds are the norm.

Success based on birth location is not left to chance

the system cares for all through regenerative finance.


Climate repair, economic justice, and social equality

are trending topics on everyone’s wall you see:

we address hard topics as communities, immersed,

because we are now okay with ourselves, first.


But life is not only about finding happiness,

it’s about appreciating that struggle is also bliss.

I am enough. I lead with vulnerability

open to my humanness, content with humanity.


…balance is repowered.

Blockchain Investing | DOKTOR Music Video | + More! 🍇

Blockchain Investing | DOKTOR Music Video | + More! 🍇

This is the Masawa Minute, a snippet of what we’re consuming in the areas of mental wellness, social impact, and impact investing. 

We’re over this COVID-19 thing. Done. This is the newish normal, so let’s turn our sights on that new reality and work toward achieving shared prosperity.

 

1. 📰👵 Tripping in Town & Country

You know psychedelics are becoming more mainstream when the oldest lifestyle magazine in the US, Town & Country, publishes a piece about their connection to treating mental illness. This article gives an accessible overview of the history of research and approval searching + highlights the mind-altering experiences of those like Aldous Huxley, Steve Jobs, and Carry Grant. 

This is an article you could forward to your grandmother. Maybe. [Thanks, Scott!]

Are Psychedelics Our Most Promising New Treatments for Depression, Anxiety, and Addiction?

 

2. ⛵️📈 Stewardship: room to grow

Get ready to hear (even) more about stewardship, the idea that investments and corporations be run with a view toward long-term sustainability.  

EY took a look at the stewardship performance of the top 30 UK investors who are signatories to the UK Stewardship Code. Our read of the report is that most are quite shite being (or at least transparently publishing) stewards. On the specific topic of social impact, one of the eight stewardship priorities, investors considered the areas of human rights, supply chain, and social contribution. EY considered less than a handful of investors “advanced” in these social impact measurement/reporting, and none as “leading”. Room to grow, indeed. 

At Masawa, we believe in the topic so much, we named our first child Stewardship. Just kidding, but it is in our Articles of Association. [Thanks, Gina!]

[pdf download] Turning the tide to greater corporate accountability

 

3. 🆕💹 A new investment model?

As this virus is making us take stock of what’s systematically gone wrong while looking towards the future for how to set it right, discussions around the nexus of investment systems and blockchain are increasing.

Zoe Adamovicz, co-founder of Neufund, a blockchain-enabled fundraising platform based in Berlin, makes the case in this interview why blockchain-based investment platforms can be better for entrepreneurs and investors. 

 “We believe that anyone should have access to fundraising”: Interview with Neufund’s co-founder Zoe

 

4. 💊👨‍⚕️ Indie Music Video + Mental Health

Kat Koan, friend of Masawa and indie artist extraordinaire, recently released a new single and video called DOCTOR. This electro song brings a bass-infused awareness to the culture of pill-pushing and mental illness and is an ode to her own bouts with depression and the medical institution. Sexy and real, Kat crafted this piece at home, because she had no other choice! Our favorite lines are:

Eat my shiny, happy pills, capsules full of magic / colorful pills to serve all thrills; eat up, your life is tragic.

Video Premiere: Kat Koan – DOCTOR

 

5. 💰🤑That’s a looooooooot of money!

Our little human brains can’t really grasp how much $1 billion is. Even those with beaucoup bucks fail to intuitively understand the difference a million, a billion, and a trillion. 

This visual depiction of the wealth of the richest person in the world ($136 billion) and that of the richest 400 US-Americans ($2.96 trillion) is merely brillant.  We were shocked how long it took us to scroll; it’s mind blowing that a portion of that $2.96 trillion could be used to solve malaria, pull all US-Americans out of poverty, and provide clean water and waste disposal for the entire world — and the wealth holders would still be billionaires! [Thanks, Andreas!]

Wealth Shown to Scale

 

6. ✨✨ Masawa Update 

We’re still living in a crazy time, but we’re certainly moving forward, fast. We’re in the process of interviewing for an Impact Research Fellow and an Impact Comms Fellow. We’re putting the finishing touches on our Friends & Family Round.  Masawa Match has over 70 services now.

And we keep breathing. 

Sometimes we need to take a moment to make sure that we’re on track with our own mental health in order to make the difference we feel is needed.

 

7. 🕯️✌️ In Closing 

Like the Masawa Minute? Show your support by sending it to those who also care.

Give someone a big [virtual] hug today + take care of each other! 🤗😘 

It’s just rocket science | Masawa Match | + More! 🍿

It's just rocket science | Masawa Match | + More! 🍿

This is the Masawa Minute, a snippet of what we’re consuming in the areas of mental wellness, social impact, and impact investing. 

And wow, the heavens above and below have certainly given us a lot of mental health and impact to consider in the past few weeks! At Masawa, in these change-is-hard times, we keep it focused on the following:  

“Get it right, now, so that when it’s time, we’re far better off than before.”

 

 

1. ⏱️🤸 Recenter.

It’s affecting us all. Studies have shown that between 65%-83% of people have had an increase in stress because of COVID-19. And let’s get real. The effect of this crisis will have lasting generational effects on our mental health as individuals and as a society.

Even though it’s been weeks for some and months for others, it’s important to recenter and adjust our mental health approaches. In this reminder article from Forbes, here are some tips about getting back on routine and using the opportunity to grow.

The Mental Health Crisis Generated By COVID-19: Why It’s Critical And How You Can Retain Your Sanity

 

 

2. 🚀👩‍🔬 Rocket scientist think!

Looking for a new, exciting, lauded book to read?  Masawa’s friend and advisory board member Kathy has a husband. He wrote a book. It’s about how to think like a rocket scientist. He used to be one. Seriously. 

The book is a fun and pragmatic read about how we all can use the tips and tricks rocket scientists (and others) use to get ahead in work and life, frameworks that are certainly needed now during this virus crisis thing.

Adam Grant, the organizational psychology guru, said the book was “bursting with practical insights” and named it his # 1 pick of his top 20 books of 2020. And it’s only April!

Think Like a Rocket Scientist by Ozan Varol

 

 

3. 🚸🧸Children’s Books Help

Remember the children.  Whether they show it or not, they’re going through a lot now, too.  Their routines and networks are much different than they’re used to, and there’s much uncertainty in the air. 

Here are two children’s books for younger kids that might be useful. Even if you don’t have kids, these books are good for adults, too. [Thanks, Chrissy!]

 “My Hero is You

The Story of the Oyster and The Butterfly

 

4. 🐈🦔 We still need cute animals, seriously.

Just watch the video and try not to feel joy. We dare you.

Super Cute Animals

 

 

5. 🤗🆘 Masawa Match is live!

As highlighted in the last Masawa Minute, we’ve put together a platform for mental health services + it’s now live!  These services could include links to resources and apps, therapists offering sessions, or performers offering live-streamed multilingual kids entertainment. Users can chat with the service providers on the platform to agree when and where to meet outside of the platform.

Send Masawa Match to those looking to provide or receive mental health services. Or offer your own service.  Every little bit helps! The platform is still in beta (there are still some bugs to fix), so let us know if something could be functionally better.

Sincere thanks to Thomas and his team for their great work in putting the beautifully functional resource together!

Masawa Match

 

 

6. ✨✨ Masawa Update 

We’re still living in a crazy time. And despite the physical distancing, including additional child care requirements, we’re busier than ever. Things are moving fast. Founders need investment to quickly meet a huge uptick in demand; investors of all kinds are waking up to the need for impactful investments in mental health.  We reached a huge legal milestone, and are working towards the next! 

But breathe. 

Sometimes we need to take a moment to make sure that we’re on track with our own mental health in order to make the difference we feel is needed.

 

7. 🕯️✌️ In Closing 

Like the Masawa Minute? Show your support by sending it to people who also care.

Give someone a big [virtual] hug today + take care of each other! 🤗😘 

This is really hard – and that’s ok | Spoon Rooms | + More! 🐹

This is really hard - and that's ok | Spoon Rooms | + More! 🐹

This is the Masawa Minute, a snippet of what we’re consuming in the areas of mental wellness, social impact, and impact investing. 

And wow, the heavens above and below have certainly given us a lot of mental health and impact to consider in the past few weeks! At Masawa, in these change-is-hard times, we keep it focused on the following:  

“Get it right, now, so that when it’s time, we’re far better off than before.”

 

1. 😢💔 First, feel it: grief.

It’s all we can think about, consuming most of what we do. So much change in so little time. So much destruction — societal, economic, mental, physical. 

So how can we not only get through this, but come out stronger and more determined? First, we need to take a moment to acknowledge what we’re feeling.  And for most of us, the root feeling is grief.  Grief that’s causing anxiety, depression, ruminitions, and monkey minds.

This nice article in the Harvard Business Review helps frame what it is we’re experiencing and how to prepare for the future. [Thanks, Christian!]

That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief

 

 

2. ☑️👀 Now, let’s keep it in check.

Our minds are powerful things.  And ensuring that we keep our minds in check during these tumultuous times is crucial. As Ben Okri writes in this piece, the virus is a mental contagion that can easily get out of hand. When this pandemic is over, as it will eventually be, we’ll look back on not only how we survived, but how we prepared ourselves for what came next.  It won’t have been beneficial to fret, frown, frab, or freg. [but making up new words helps.]

So get real good at feeling all the feelings, acknowledging them, observing them, creating stories about their lives. Share those stories on social media. Use the hashtag #realfeelings. [Ha!]

 Fear of Covid-19 is a mental contagion – and that’s something we can fight

 

 

3. 🤕🤦‍♀️ Mental illness is now realer.

Before COVID-19, mental illness, specifically depression, was the leading cause of disability worldwide! [Holy Moly.] And after COVID-19, mental illness will still be the leading cause of disability worldwide. [Shocker, we know.] And now that some 83% of young people in the UK are feeling negative impacts on their mental health, one of the few good things this damn virus will do is to help shed light on the mental illness epidemic [pandemic by the time we’re done?… ]. 

UK poll finds young people’s mental health hit by coronavirus

 

4. 🦙🦑 Cute animals are back.

Because we need them now more than ever.

Cute baby animals videos compilation

 

5. 👯‍♂️🥄 Craft New Communities with Spoons

Social distancing is a misnomer. We’re physical distancing, which causes social distancing, the opposite of healthy.  We’re communal creators and [most of us] enjoy the company of others. 

And now, it’s hard to stop thinking about yourself, your family, and your specific world. One way to work on getting it right, now, is to increase our compassion and true interactions with people we don’t necessarily know.

The team at Comorados, which BC19 (before COVID-19) set up Public Living Rooms, has joined forces with Conscious-U to create Spoon Rooms in which strangers from around the world digitally come together to simply be, together. There’s much beauty in waving silly spoons around with people you’ve never met. [Thanks, Nadja!]

Join the Big Spoon Room on Saturdays @ 11:00 GMT

 

6. ✨Masawa Update 

What a time we live in. 

We’ve learned a lot in the past weeks about the power of pragmatism. We’re humbled by the realization that there’s now even more need for Masawa. While we’re powering on with the investment fund, we’re also working on two contributing projects:

Masawa Match (in development) is a resource site to find therapists, coaches, and others to improve their mental wellness and productivity, and hopefully find a little levity. These resources could include digital therapy, coaching, websites, apps, performances, or virtual dance parties + many more. [Thanks Thomas!]

The Masawa Maxim (in development) is a podcast series to highlight innovations in mental wellness technology, approaches, and models. We decided to make a podcast primarily because everyone else is doing it + we have FOMO. [Thanks, Scott!]

 

7. 🕯️✌️ In Closing 

Like the Masawa Minute? Show your support by sending it to people who also care.

Give someone a big [virtual] hug today + take care of each other! 🤗

Psychedelics | Cute Startups | + More! 🍓

Psychedelics | Cute Startups | + More! 🍓

This is the Masawa Minute, a snippet of what we’re consuming in the areas of mental wellness, social impact, and impact investing. 

 

1. 🍄👩‍⚕️ The psychedelics are coming!!

Psychedelics are coming!! Science has proven the efficacy of using substances like psilocybin (magic mushrooms), LSD, MDMA to relieve/reset depression, PTSD, addiction, and more. More jurisdictions are talking about decriminalization and legalization, and so, naturally, the wave of innovators, investors, and vultures is on its way! This long-form article in Fortune gives a nice overview of the complexity and sides to these powerful substances.

Business gets ready to trip: How psychedelic drugs may revolutionize mental health care

 

2. 💕👀 Cute Startups!

No cute animals this week, we’re still hooked on the pangolins from last week.  But our friends over at Venture Leap put together this great landscape analysis of the (digital) Mental Health StartUp Landscape in the EU and found 101 active companies — enjoy! [thanks, Philipp!]

Fighting the Mental Health Crisis – 2020 StartUp Landscape

 

3. ☎️🗣️  Telemental!

Telemental health services are increasing in the US, according to this report summary, and will help overflowing emergency departments better cope. The telemental health industry market size is supposed to be $774 million (yikes!) in the US alone in 2021. And it’s not quite clear how these additional services will fit into reimbursement policies. Our question is the efficacy of such systems by treatment area. Yes, human connection is best, but how much is lost via the digital connection, if at all?

TELEMENTAL HEALTH REPORT: How telehealth can help US hospitals and health systems manage the $238 billion mental health crisis

 

4. 😒🔥 Founder burnout is real.

This op-ed shows how one Canadian entrepreneur completely crashed and burned in a system that only wanted her to be the ever-heroine and exemplary human. Erin Blaskie was able to get the assistance she needed, but only after acknowledging her vulnerabilities. In a perverse way, start-up burnout is becoming seen as a badge of honor, but the effects are real. We saw a study that said founders are twice as likely to have issues with depression. Yikes.

 

Op-ed: Entrepreneurship nearly killed me. Why it’s time for us to do something about founder burnout

 

5. 🏢☮️ CSR: friend or foe?

Alison Taylor of NYU’s Stern School of Business writes in this article that the CSR veneer is fading — finally. Big companies with big claims of desired social impact and intense lobbying efforts for the opposite need to be held accountable, like Coca-Cola, Facebook, and UBS, which are called out. The article also mentions ‘impact-washing’ of ESG impact investments that companies are jumping into. We suspect that regulators will soon weigh in on this point, which is very welcomed!  

The corporate responsibility facade is finally starting to crumble

 

6. ✨Masawa Update 

We successfully completed formation, an incubator for traditionally marginalized startup, run in Berlin by Porsche Digital and APX. It was great to walk in the shoes of and think like a startup because Masawa is also technically a start-up. 

 

7. 🕯️✌️ In Closing 

Like the Masawa Minute? Show your support by sending it to people who also care.

 

Give someone a big hug today + take care of each other! 🤗😘 

Climate Anxiety | Pangolins | + More! ⁉️

Climate Anxiety | Pangolins | + More! ⁉️

This is the Masawa Minute, a snippet of what we’re consuming in the areas of mental wellness, social impact, and impact investing. 

 

1. 😒🔥 Depression can be so hot.

Does an elevated body temperature have anything to do with depression? This is a great episode from the Art of Manliness podcast around depression and various links: mind-body connections, time-restricted eating, inflammation, and more! [Thanks, Scott!]

Inflammation, Saunas, and the New Science of Depression

 

2. 💕👀 Pangolins!

We still need something cute and random.  When we heard that the coronavirus outbreak might have been caused by trafficked pangolins, we looked around and said, ‘pango-whats‽’. Pangolins are the only mammal covered in scales and eat a diet of yummy ants and termites.  The eight different species are found natively in Africa and Asia. The babies are delectably cute, yet pangolins are the most trafficked animal in the world. :sad-face: Here’s a clip about the tree pangolin and maybe together we can lobby the product marketers of the world to embrace pangolins after they’re done with llamas!

The World’s Only Scaled Mammal Is ADORABLE

 

3. 🧘‍♀️💊 Yoga and Gaba walk into a bar…

Gaba Gaba Gaba! That’s probably from some cartoon. We could google it, but we’re okay with not learning everything. But what we have learned, thanks to this article on research from the Boston University School of Medicine (Go BU!), is that the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) seemingly increases in the short-term after doing yoga.  GABA is like a chill pill that reduces the chatty nature of neurons in the brain and central nervous system; less  yapping = less stress = more peace and tranquility. The study showed, though, that the yoga effects wear off after four days, so make sure you chaturanga frequently.

Researchers Identify Link between Decreased Depressive Symptoms, Yoga and the Neurotransmitter GABA

4. 🤸🧬 Leaders’ mind forms

A little self-reflection can go a long way. Leaders are often shackled to their identity and protect it at all costs, without realizing what kind of change agents they could become. This McKinsey article by Jennifer Garvey Berger and Zafer Gedeon Achi dives into the four stages or forms of mind, including the self-sovereign mind, the socialized-mind, the self-authored mind, and the self-transforming mind, and argues that leaders can create lasting possibilities and value for the greater good when they’re in a self-transforming mind form. [Thanks, Christian!]

Understanding the leader’s ‘identity mindtrap’: Personal growth for the C-suite

 

5.  ☀️🧠 Climate Change  ⇔ Mental Health

When there’s an existential crisis, it only makes sense that those on the frontlines face increased mental health issues.  This article in The Guardian nicely captures the increase of mental health issues due to fighting climate change and as a result of actual climate change. [Thanks, Anj + Alessandra!]

Remember, friends, we can’t solve these seemingly-intractable issues if we’re not mentally well, ourselves.

‘Overwhelming and terrifying’: the rise of climate anxiety



6. ✨Masawa Update 

We’re happily chugging along! We had a great first advisory board meeting, and are working fast to enhance our comms game, engaging harmoniously with the (nice) lawyers, and are continuing to meet interesting people (potential investors and investee) wanting to make a bigger mark on the world by tackling mental health issues.

 

7. 🕯️✌️ In Closing 

Like the Masawa Minute? Show your support by forwarding it to people who also care.

 

Give someone a big hug today + take care of each other! 🤗😘 

 

Shackling the Sick | Opossums | + More! 🌬️

Shackling the Sick | Opossums | + More! 🌬️

This is the Masawa Minute, a snippet of what we’re consuming in the areas of mental wellness, social impact, and impact investing. 

 

1. 🎧🏹 Is Conflict Inevitable?

This podcast series, hosted by Polly Young-Eisendrath and Eleanor Johnson, examines if conflict is inevitable by investigating various facets of human nature, including psychology, art, relationships, and belonging. It’s fascinating that conflict and mental illness share a number of root causes. [Thanks, Sara!]

ENEMIES: From War to Wisdom

 

2. 🍌😻 Opossums!

Sometimes we need something cute and random.  Have you ever wondered how an opossum eats bananas? Us too! Here’s a short clip of a passel of opossums consuming the fruit, and it’s certainly smile-inducing. Yes, a group of opossums is a passel, and, yes, opossums and possums are two different animals. Opossums are North America’s only native marsupial, and possums live in Australia, Oceania, and China.

Opossums Enjoying Their Bananas

 

3. 🏳️‍🌈⚖️ Official Inclusion Reduces Suicide

Sometimes we forget about the impact that inclusive and supportive public policy can have. This Upworthy article highlights a recent study that found that the suicide rate in the US among LGBTQ youth dropped 14% after gay marriage was legalized. A different study in Sweden and Denmark found that there was a 46% drop in suicide for couples in same-sex marriages. [Thanks, Taly!]

What other public policy changes could catalyze mental wellness? Maybe something like “Mentalcare for All?” 🙂  

Legalizing gay marriage has caused a dramatic drop in LGBT suicide rates

 

4. ⛓️🇬🇭 Shackling the Sick

These images are repulsive, angering, and saddening.  And the text screams of desperation and a lack of alternatives. Shackling or caging people with mental health issues not only violates international human rights and disability law, it violates basic human order. Intentions be damned, this systemic failure is unacceptable.

‘All we can offer is the chain’: the scandal of Ghana’s shackled sick

 

5.  ☀️🌷 R.I.P. Leila Janah

This is a touching tribute to Leila Janah from Claudine Emeott of the Salesforce Impact Fund. Leila was a pioneer in the impact world, founding Samasource which gives low-income workers in developing countries access to work in the tech economy.  Her story of determination and triumph in the face of continuous adversity is humbling. She sadly passed away in late January 2020. 

Samasource: A Tribute to Leila Janah, and Why We Invested

 

6. Masawa Update ✨

The recent reporting in the Guardian about the shackled sick in Ghana has really hit a nerve. We’re pissed off, and even more determined to use all approaches necessary to bring the silent epidemic that is mental illness to light. Breathe. We’re taking many breaths. 

The ChangeNOW Summit in Paris last week was great; we met with a number of entrepreneurs, funders, and co-investors. The headlining theme was climate change but an underlying theme was self-care. With so much anger, determination, and action, we can’t lose sight of the importance of inner work and self-care. You can’t maximize results if you’re not maximized, yourself…

 

7. In Closing 🕯️✌️

Like the Masawa Minute? Show your support by forwarding it to people who also care.

Give someone a big hug today + take care of each other! 🤗😘 

Metal Health RoI = 5.7x! | Cuttlefish | + More! 🕵️‍♀️

Metal Health RoI = 5.7x! | Cuttlefish | + More! 🕵️‍♀️

This is the Masawa Minute, a snippet of what we’re consuming in the areas of mental wellness, social impact, and impact investing. 

Have something to share? Hit reply!

 

1. 🎧🍬Diabetology

Ologies is a fun podcast series that digs into different and often esoteric sciences. This episode is all about diabetology. It’s an entertaining look at all-things blood glucose, including the concept that sugar has an effect on your mental health! We were surprised to learn that 10% of US-Americans have diabetes. If you like this episode, be on the watch for the second part dropping next week (Feb 2020). [Thanks, Scott!]

Note: Ologies uses flavorful language + Masawa doesn’t necessarily support the medical/non-medical opinions in this episode, but does support the belief that sugar and processed foods are the devil. 

Ologies: Diabetology

 

2. 🦑🏠Cuttlefish!

What phenomenal creatures! In this clip we see if a cuttlefish can blend into garrish interior design. This is a metaphor for how we sometimes wish we could blend into the background or hypnotize others into listening to our commands. If you had these mad skillz, how might you use them?

Can Cuttlefish camouflage in a living room?

 

3. 🧠💰Mental Health Investments Work!

In this important study, researchers modeled the treatment costs and health outcomes for depression and anxiety treatment in 36 countries from 2016–2030 and found that a $1 investment resulted in a $2.3–$3.0 return, when economic benefits only are considered, and a $3.3–$5.7 return when the value of health returns are also included. This is huge, given that the estimated economic cost of mental illness will reach $6T by 2030 (that’s $6,000,000,000,000 with 12 zeros!). [Thanks, Crick!]

Scaling-up treatment of depression and anxiety: a global return on investment analysis

 

4. 📝⛓️Break the Anxiety Chains.

Almost a fifth of US-Americans deal with anxiety, an often crippling experience.  And this includes leaders of all types.  In this article, Sabina Nawaz helps us to better identify the types of anxious episodes we might experience and provides some tips on how to deal with them.

How Anxiety Traps Us, and How We Can Break Free

 

5. ❤️🗺️Impact Investing = Better Future 

This story, the cover of the February 2020 issues of “Financier Worldwide”  is a nice summary of impact investing from the financier’s viewpoint.

Some highlights include a figure from the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN)’s report that funds manage an estimated $529B in impact investing assets currently, and that impact investing isn’t a new way of investing, but rather a new purpose for investing.

Toward a better future: the value of impact investing

 

✨Masawa Update ✨

Bushfires burn, helicopters dot the skies above Davos, and it’s grey in Berlin, but we have a lot to be grateful for!

The advisory board will still be announced soon and still includes visionaries in the fields of psychiatry, nutrition, finance, sustainability, organizational development, and blockchain! 🥳.  

The Masawa Friends + Family funding round is about 60% subscribed, so it won’t be open for very much longer.  

Legal takes a long time… We’re figuring out the jigsaw puzzle that is setting up a steward-owned fund in a place that will allow us to innovate. 

We’ll be at the ChangeNOW Summit in Paris next week, alongside 20,000 other positive impact changemakers. 

And we continue to engage with inspiring founders, investors, coaches, activists, and family members working to make mental wellness matter.

Give someone a big hug today + take care of each other! 🤗😘

All about relationships | Loneliness | + More! 👯‍♂️

All about relationships | Loneliness | + More! 👯‍♂️

This is the Masawa Minute, a snippet of what we’re reading in the areas of mental wellness, social impact, and impact investing. 

Have something to share? Hit reply!

 

1. Podcast  🎧🤗

Culture First: Relationships

A positive workplace culture is a crucial element to maintaining mental wellness.  In the inaugural episode of their podcast Culture First, Culture Amp chats with renowned psychotherapist Ester Perel about relational intelligence. The episode also highlights extra measures fully-remote companies Buffer and Zapier take so that distance can make the heart grow fonder. [Thanks, Huria!]

 

2. Short Clip 🎬🧠

The Science Behind Mindfulness Meditation

This animated clip of the science behind mindfulness meditation, an accessible skill for all, describes how it can change the brain by shrinking the amygdala (fear center) and reducing cortisol (stress hormone) levels so that we can decrease stress while increasing creativity, self confidence, and kindness. [Thanks, Christian!]

 

3. Research Study 📈💰

Mental health financing challenges, opportunities and strategies in low- and middle-income countries: findings from the Emerald project

This research paper identifies the barriers and opportunities for better mental health financing in Ethiopia, India, Nepal, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda. Although low funding for mental wellness persists, there’s hope that an emerging political interest in mental health coupled with the potential for better mental health coverage in insurance schemes could start closing the funding gap.

 

4. Article 📝😢

More people are dying alone—and the global economy isn’t prepared for it

In this long-form article, author T. L. Andrews poignantly self-reflects on un- + intended consequences of his bachelordom, delves into the effects of modern independence on loneliness, and explores new models of friendship intended to abate the fallout from relational modernity. [Thanks, Tony!]

 

5. Impact Investing 🔥☮️

Impact investing is hot right now. Here’s why

Values-first investing is on the rise and MIT found that it actually leads to not only making your heart grow bigger, but to making your wallet grow bigger, too. Patient capital is gaining more popularity, and in direct contrast to shareholder primacy, stakeholder welfare is mattering more. 

Commentary: More evidence is needed before we can say that environmental-, social-, and/or governance-based impact-focused investments categorically perform better, but we’ll continue to be biased until then. If interested in how you can impactfully invest, get in touch to take part of the Masawa Friends + Family funding round before it closes!

 

✨Masawa Update ✨

Holidays and the New Year are a great time to reconnect, rejuvenate, and reprioritize. We made sure to do just that.

The advisory board will be announced soon and includes visionaries in the fields of psychiatry, nutrition, finance, sustainability, organizational development, and blockchain! 🥳.  The Friends + Family funding round is about 50% subscribed, so it won’t be open for very much longer.  A lot of our current focus is on fund establishment and legal matters.  We’re committed to a structure that maintains the purpose-driven mission of the organization which is reflected in everything we do. And we continue to engage with inspiring founders, investors, podcasters, coaches, activists, and family members working to make mental wellness matter.

Give someone a big hug today + take care of each other! 🤗😘

The Masawa Minute

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