As a twenty-six-year-old millennial, a significant part of my upbringing was in a world of economic fragility, the oligopoly that is our financial institutions, and the inability of most citizens or businesses to participate in or change these institutions. Throughout all this, I felt powerless -- social movements lacked a cohesive direction, and my ability to affect banks or other financially omnipotent organizations was all but none. I don’t have billions, or millions, or even thousands-upon-thousands of dollars -- I am one person with a small wallet. Yet every day, people with bigger wallets are able to define and shape my financial life and stifle the financial empowerment I may seek.
Now there’s a little bit of light shining through the cracks of our exclusive financial institutions; investment-based crowdfunding. The Federal government has legalized investment-based crowdfunding and Colorado has seized this opportunity by passing the Colorado Crowdfunding Act (CCA). Now, I have a real, albeit small, opportunity to inject my voice, my beliefs, into the economy. Under the CCA, I can now invest up to five-thousand dollars in any business willing to use crowdfunded dollars. Before the CCA, such investments were limited to ‘accredited’ investors -- individuals with over one-million dollars in assets.
I can now invest in my favorite brew-pub, but who cares? Why does that matter? Well, for one, it means I can now support the businesses, and by extension, the people and the community I care about and am a part of. Now, I can turn to my friends and say -- “let’s support this place we all love so much” -- I can now shape my reality and support the things and people I care about in a way I was unable to before. Even better, I can actually make money when I offer my support.
Beyond these local concerns, there are larger implications when we exercise our new-found power as small investors. Thanks to the CCA and the federal legalization of investment-based crowdfunding, democracy has wriggled a finger into financial opportunities and institutions limited to the 1%. Now, instead of pitching a tent in a park and hoping for the best, I can put my money into businesses I believe in and support and affect the market, and indirectly these institutions, with my wallet. I can resist and make myself richer all at the same time. I can shape the world as I want it to be by putting my wallet behind that belief.
If democracy is equal treatment and equal opportunity before the law as demanded by the people, than investment-based crowdfunding is a step in the direction of a democratic economy. It is upon all of us to seize this opportunity and continue to demand such equality.