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Sr Barbara Staley talks about integrating faith and finance in Missionary Sisters' portfolio


Sister Barbara Staley, Superior General of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (often known as the Cabrini Sisters after their founder, Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, and her colleagues Greg Lane, CFO, and Kayoko Lyons, Director of Investments, discuss what it means to integrate faith and finance and why they decided to build an impact investing portfolio.

Sr Barbara Staley
Sr Barbara Staley
'We had a couple different portfolio managers and for a couple of years they would be meeting with me and talking to me continuously about how they were going to grow my principal – and I wasn't worried about growing my principal. Any goods that we have – we call them temporal goods in my world, our investments are our temporal goods – are not mine. We are the stewards of those goods and those goods are to be used for the people of God. And again, in my language, people of God means all the people in the world. They are to be used for their good, not for the security of the Missionary Sisters, not for me building my wealth and building my principal.


Watch the video below for a lively discussion with Sr Barbara, Greg Lane and Kayoko Lyons, on how they went about building an impact investment portfolio, what they've learned and the next steps.

You can also listen as a podcast. and check out our long read on the Sisters' decision, which provides much more detail about their motivations, thinking and process.


The video interview is 40 minutes long. Below is an outline of the contents by minute.

  • 00.00 – 01.09: Introduction:

  • 01.10 – 07.10: Why the Missionary Sisters moved into impact investing

  • 07.11 – 11.29: Gregory Lane on his motivation for joining the Sisters

  • 11.30– 13.17: Kayoko Lyons on why she joined as Director of Investments

  • 13.18 – 21.24: How the Missionary Sisters define faith-consistent investing, and why they want to share their story now

  • 21.25 – 25.46: Setting up their Impact Investment programme

  • 25.47 – 28.38: Finding professional help

  • 28.39 – 36.56: Moment of greatest joy or relief

  • 36.57 – 39.46: Looking ahead to the next steps


Since their founding in 1880, the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus have had one mission – “to be bearers of the love of Christ to the world”. Several years ago, they realised that their investments could also be an instrument of that love, and embarked upon the process of building an impact investing portfolio.

Sr Barbara explains: 'We find ourselves at a moment in our history that demands a transformation in our methodology and understanding in how to be effective in delivering on this mission. With limited human resources but rich in missionary zeal, we have recognised that the purpose of our temporal goods needs to be refocused.

'We decided to dispense with subjugating ourselves to secular financial wisdom and to very deliberately respond to the Church’s demand to recognize ourselves only as stewards, not owners of our temporal goods. With this as our reference we are determined to use our financial resources to express a new model of apostolic ministry and broaden our effectiveness of spreading God’s love to all the corners of the earth without the physical presence of Sisters. Thus, our entry into impact investing and venture philanthropy.'

In the first two years of building their portfolio, the Sisters:

● Have made 20 investments, including two credit unions, six CDFIs (community development finance institutions), three social enterprises, eight private debt funds and one private equity fund

● By dollars invested, roughly 65% is in emerging markets (mostly Africa & Latin America) and 35% in USA/Canada/Europe (mostly the US)

● Half of the organisations in our portfolio have an intentional focus on migrants

● We have been the first investor, or in the first group of investors, for ~40% of our investments

● A third of our investments are led by women

● The weighted average tenor of our portfolio is 3.8 years

● The expected annual return is 2.3%

● We have not had any payment defaults to date



Founded in 1880 by Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart is a congregation of Catholic women religious with a mission to spread the love of Christ to the world’s most vulnerable people, with a particular focus on women and children, migrants, and frail elders.

Throughout their 140-year history, the sisters have responded boldly to the needs of the poor, establishing schools, hospitals, social service centers, immigration service centers, and more around the world. Today, they operate in 17 countries across North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Australia.

Find out more about the Cabrini Sisters:


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