At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a call for action, compassion, and innovation was launched by the millennial generation — who are now leaders in their own right — as business owners, social entrepreneurs, and emerging industry managers.
From demanding more ethical and sustainable products to pushing for more transparency from corporations and brands they support, the backbone of today’s workforce is shaping the economy in ways only they can. Dubbed (although sometimes with sting and disfavor from other generations) as the “woke” generation, millennials are increasingly recognized as a politically-aware and socially-conscious collective whose ethics and values are well reflected in their life choices.
This spirit of this generation is well embodied in our featured lender and educator Nicole Santos and her unlikely choices that ultimately led her to make her boldest and most millennial move yet: take out her savings from her first job to invest in young people’s future.
“Once nakaipon na ako ng konti (once I finally built my savings), I knew I wanted to put my money somewhere for it to grow, but none of the options available seemed viable or safe.”
Four years into her stint teaching English in an all-boys private high school, 25-year old Nicole saw herself in a place all too familiar to a lot of young adults figuring their way in the world of financial stability — wrestling with the question: what’s next?
Wherever you come from, kickstarting your financial journey is pretty much like setting on to uncharted waters, and it’s easy to get drowned in a sea of options.
Nicole, after saving up enough for her emergency fund found herself in this sticky situation. Yet, with all the available alternatives, none seems to fit the mold of investment that Nicole could identify with. More than just finding a secure place to park her hard-earned savings, Nicole would like her money to grow in other ways beyond the balance sheet.
Thankfully, a close friend introduced her to the world of impact investing.
Impact investing refers to the growing niche of the investing industry that looks at investments that are expected to yield more than just financial returns but also generate social and environmental impact.
Unsurprisingly, millennials make up a significant segment of this sector. In essence, people who tend to lean into making impact investments are also keen on diversifying their portfolio and are firm believers that investments you make are an active declaration of your values and advocacies. They stand with a shared belief that money is a tool and it is best tied to a mission to solve the world’s most pressing problems.
This is something Nicole understands and deeply connects with.
Not many who know her would have guessed how Nicole, who is best remembered in the family as the girl who grew up having the company of adults as playmates, would end up taking the path of an educator and settling into a long-term career teaching teenagers — but it wasn’t quite a mystery for her. Ever since she was young, Nicole had always felt at home with the idea of helping others unfold their potential.
“When we were doing tutorials for schools, we would go to a depressed area and visit a family to teach the kids,” she shared, believing that this seemingly minor encounter from high school changed her life, “It was just the simple idea of helping them to succeed — I realized that every kid needs a good teacher, and it started there.”
Although her desire to teach came from a genuine interest to help mold young people, over the years, this idea transformed and grew into something bigger — a burden and a mission.
“I was thinking, ang dami-daming problema ng Pilipinas (we have so many problems in the Philippines), how are we going to begin to fix it? Then I realized that it all starts in education. A lot of the problems we have are because the education system is so complicated. That gave me more motivation to continue.”
As she grew more familiar with the challenging realities of the education sector in the country, such as the general lack of support faced by many Filipino teachers (which is now exacerbated by the shift to blended learning — the mix of online and face to face teaching methods as schools face prolonged closures and class suspensions), Nicole confessed these often dispiriting conditions kept her young idealism in check.
“All these things I was exposed to, they are such big issues that there is no one way to attack it. So as an individual, hindi ko na rin alam kung saan magsisimula (I also didn’t know where to start). It takes a community to solve these problems.”
With this pursuit of a community that could help make things happen, Nicole found herself led by the seas of options in the shores of InvestEd, a growing startup company that allows institutions and individuals to invest in a secure future for everyone by creating a difference in young people’s lives through educational loans.
“InvestEd’s mission is to give students the ability, the means, to start, continue, or finish their schooling and make sure that they get employed after,” shares Nicole, defining her personal definition of what InvestEd stands for.
“I did a little bit of research, and it felt so up my alley. Education? I’ll be helping students — it seemed right. Then I talked to my partner about it, and he said it seemed like it’s worth it.”
Of course, as a novice in making such bold financial choices, Nicole laid down her reservations at the beginning: “My first question was, will it really be helpful for the Investees (the students)? I wasn’t sure about the model…May guarantee ba that I’ll get my money back?”
Eventually, this question evolved into: does it fit into her financial goals? How risky could it be? After all, financial security remains a priority. Investing will always entail risks and it’s all about weighing the risk she could take vis-a-vis the total benefit, she wondered. For Nicole, however, one thing is non-negotiable: impact comes first.
“For me, the main concern was, are we really going to be helping people or is it going to hurt people?”
Nicole seems to have found her answers, as today, she remains among InvestEd’s first millennial lenders. Since 2016, InvestEd was able to build-up an excellent track record of payment for its lenders who helped fund hundreds of students across more than 170 schools in the country.
A year after taking out her savings from her first job to fund young student dreamers, Nicole thinks about the fruits of her decision: “It seems like a safe investment na I won’t lose in and it’s about something I believe in.”
She adds: “It’s a good place for me to invest my money. What I like about being here as one of the investors is I feel good at all ends. Everybody wins. I think, if you’re going to invest your money, why not do it in education? I can think of very few other options where you can invest and the rewards are as great as they are here…so I’m happy.”
They say you’ll gain only as much as you’re willing to sacrifice, and for Nicole, taking that leap of faith to invest in a growing startup and ensuring college students are able to finish their degrees and secure jobs had opened up wonders for her and the people she intends to serve.
“I’m still optimistic that if you’re changing or if you are making a difference in one kid’s life, you’re impacting the future.”
There is no better time to make a difference than now, and as a millennial, Nicole understands that they hold the responsibility in shaping the future of her generation and the next.
“It’s only going to be our world for the next 40 years. After that, this will be their future. We wouldn’t have a say anymore, so we have to give them the right tools to be able to give them the future that they deserve, right?”
Now more than ever, InvestEd believes in the power of education in ensuring the economic mobility of young people and their families. Be part of InvestEd’s mission of enabling young Filipinos to complete their college degrees and secure the future of the next generation.
Learn more about InvestEd’s Investment Program at https://invested.ph/investing and make your first impact investment today!