Greg Awad Lobe joins us for this month’s Member Profile. As a member and investor in CED Co-op Greg believes in ethical investments, and the power of a group like our co-op to be leaders in sustainable development.

How and why did you become a member and start investing with CED Co-op?

I was first exposed to CED Co-op because I knew Brian (Unrau, President of CED Co-op). Immediately my wife and I knew the investment opportunity checked a lot of boxes for us. It is a local organization, involved in local partnerships, predicated on sustainable energy development – this was something we could get excited about.

When you’re investing in mutual funds and other things you can’t control where your investments go. As much as you try to direct it, in some ways we found we had very little control. Through CED Co-op we found long term sustainable investment for retirement in an ethical scenario.

So, the investment opportunity checked a lot of boxes for you. Did you have any concerns about investing?

Like I said, we wanted to make more conscious decisions about our investments. Nothing is completely without grey areas. You look at funds from an ethical perspective, do the best with the knowledge you have, and try to make intelligent choices.

Of course it’s nice to get a positive return as well! You want to get a return on your investments, while balancing the risk/reward and ethical considerations.

What gave you the confidence to make the leap?

First of all, I wouldn’t have invested as much as I did, as quickly as I did if I didn’t know the people involved. Having a sense of the people, the projects, the places, and the contracts involved gives you a good feeling about investing in something like this.

I have lots of friends who are active investors, so these discussions happen. We talk about what we’re invested in, what the opportunities are, and that helps make decisions.

Those are good conversations to have. We all know there is lots to consider when dealing with finances and safety for retirement.

There is, but when it comes down to it, it was an easy decision for my wife and I – one of the easiest financial decisions we have made. Investing in CED Co-op just made so much sense. We had the funds and were ready to set them aside and wait for 20 years. The return would provide a nice payout, and we wouldn’t have to think about it.

Our investment advisor didn’t look at it as favourably, but this was a case where I think he couldn’t compete with it. He can’t compete with the risk/return profile, and he can’t compete with where the money is invested.

I think there’s still a certain degree of looking down on responsible or ethical investments, even from advisors. These guys don’t always want to do the work to bring ethics into the risk/reward conversation. Really, those are the three keys to the whole thing: ethics, risk, and reward.

You mentioned ethical investing is important. What do or don’t you invest in to satisfy this desire to do better with your money?

We continue to invest in a lot of vehicles: mutual funds, TFSAs, even real estate. We’re trying to stay away from multinational operations that we don’t agree with. Whether it’s weapons, food, agriculture, the premise is the same – we would rather fund local organizations using local resources to actively create a sustainable product.

It’s great to know the people behind the company, know the frame of mind of the leadership team, and know that they are making the same decisions with their investments. Seeing good, honest feedback and communication, not just spit and polish gives me a sense of confidence in any organization.

I was even lucky enough to see the installation at Blind River. I was up there on business and Brian told me to drive over and check it out. It was amazing to drive into that enormous maze of solar trackers and see our investments at work in a tangible way.

What do you think the future holds? What are you excited about when it comes to sustainable development and CED Co-op?

I’m interested in the future of solar. I think Net Metering, storage solutions, and electric vehicles have a lot of potential. I’m putting up a garage right now – why don’t I build solar panels into the design to power my house? You could get a lot of grassroots support form guys like me, and a lot of small projects. Couple that with purchase of electric vehicles, and we could have a pretty big impact on an energy transition.

Even cooler is the concept of virtual net metering. I could put solar panels on my rural property, and then allow you to purchase part of the capacity, instead of only personal use, or selling it back to the grid?

I’m excited to see those technologies move forward, and how CED Co-op and our membership can be part of the conversation.

Great ideas Greg. I love your enthusiasm for making change, and desire to see CED Co-op be leaders in the transition.

Well it’s great to have a group of like-minded people looking for solutions and making decisions together. Good relationships plus strong leadership is an advantage. There is power and potential for a group like this to affect change. I can’t wait to be a part of it.

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