Written by Jasmine Hon
“I feel very fortunate to have the chance to be part of an emerging social change movement.”
– Lina Bowden
Lina Bowden has always been interested in community development – and after thirty years of working in the investment industry, she recently made the decision of going back to school to learn more about her passion and earn a Masters Degree.
Lina’s interest in community development first started when she became a volunteer for Heart-Links, a small grassroots organization that builds communities and raises awareness of poverty in Peru. Through three-week “exposure trips,” North American volunteers are able to live in solitary with a community in Peru, in order to truly understand their underlying issues of poverty and to help them find sustainable solutions. “My first trip with Heart-Links in 2000 was a true wake-up call for me about the injustice present in the world,” Lina said, “and it deepened my understanding of some key issues of poverty in these developing areas.” Moved by her exposure trip experience, she has now become one of the co-chairs on the organizing committee.
During Lina’s recent trips to Peru, she helped establish a youth program with the launch of a local restaurant to help young adolescents gain practical skills and knowledge in fields such as restaurant management. Her friend, who recently visited the restaurant, informed her that the restaurant was doing very well – in fact, there was even a line just to get a seat in the restaurant. “I am really happy to know that this three-year funded project is on track of being sustainable and able to run by itself,” said Lina.
Another social initiative Lina is involved with, called Social Finance London, is also moving forward to create change. In collaboration with United Way, London Community Foundation, Sisters of St. Joseph, Pillar Nonprofit Network and many other organizations, the group hopes to help create awareness in local investors about the potential to invest locally in London in social and environmental ventures. “Historically, business was something conducted locally, ultimately serving the community. However, today’s capitalism is driven by shareholder profits. A new kind of company is emerging: one that has a social or environmental purpose at its core.” said Lina. That is the type of company that Social Finance London wants to work with. As Social Finance London evolves, they look for investors who seek to consider adding a social investment to their portfolio, doing more than just gain profit.
Through her involvement with this group, Lina is using her finance and organization expertise to benefit community development in London. This is a growing collaborative effort seeking to support many entrepreneurs in the city, as seen through the rise in social enterprises around the city, including Impact Junk, Textbooks for Change, and Coupons for Hunger.
About the writer
Jasmine Hon is a first-year student studying Media, Information and Technoculture (MIT) at Western University with Advanced Entry Opportunity (AEO) to the Richard Ivey School of Business. While her interests lie within the fields of journalism and business, she is uncertain as to the kind of career she’d like to pursue in the future. For now, Jasmine is just greatly inspired by the entrepreneurs she’s met to continue working hard and discovering more about her passions. In her spare time, this eighteen-year-old is often spotted exploring the city of London, visiting the farmer’s market, or tapping away furiously on her laptop in various coffee shops around the city.