Guided by Passion and Purpose

Aug 13, 2014

“If I had stopped and considered my chances of being successful in the Fund industry, purely from the point of view of numbers,” says Jocelyn Cortez-Young, CEO of Minerva Capital, “I wouldn’t even have tried”. 


Cortez-Young operates in the heavily male dominated investment world of funds that manage third-party money. Only 2-3% of these funds are managed by women and that is a number that has not budged in over 15 years.  Her company,  Minerva Capital,  focuses on Impact Investing which is a relatively new concept, and one that is catching on quickly.  It requires strict social metrics: each company that Minerva invests in must have 20% women at the management or board level; provide 20 hours of training per month to staff on all levels; hire at least 20% of the staff from the local community. Minerva is based in Miami, and invests in companies in Latin America.

It is surprising -- and refreshing --  to hear Cortez-Young speak less about the allure of financial gain for herself, and more about the importance of having a purpose.

With the numbers against her when it came to successful women in her field, and skeptics around every corner, she ultimately had to fall back on her own values and sense of purpose to give her the courage required to build her fund up to the prominent position it now holds.

“It may sound strange, but I wasn’t in this for the money -- I need to have a greater sense of purpose to what I do. So I flipped my thinking around, aligning my work with my values. Every time I began to falter or lose courage, I would go back to that idea: forget about the numbers and focus on aligning what I do with passion and purpose.”

Minerva Capital was recently chosen to be one of the 10 funds recommended by the US Government to speak to foreign embassies about their program.

These days, opportunities abound to speak and present in front of large groups. From The Aspen Institute and CNN, to private investors around the country and the world, to women’s professional groups -- people are interested to know about the work of Minerva Capital and what it is like for Cortez-Young to be one of the 2% of women in the field. When I ask her about this, she groans in dismay:  “I still have a very hard time with public speaking!  It definitely keeps me up at night. But like everything else with this work, I go back to making it about my passion and my purpose and even that becomes just a little easier!”


Jocelyn Cortez-Young is the founder and CEO of Minerva Capital Group, a double bottom line impact investment firm focusing on emerging markets. She holds a BS from NYU, Stern School of Business, an MBA from Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management, and an Executive Education Certification from Harvard Kennedy School of Public Policy. She lives with her husband and son in Miami, Florida

Christina Holbrook, for Gutsy Gals Inspire Me

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