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Shirley Wu: Investing for a More Robust and Inclusive Economy in New York City

Shirley Wu: Investing for a More Robust and Inclusive Economy in New York City


Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.

Hi friends, it’s Spiffy, back again on Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs making the world a more equitable place! I have one more interview for you this week. Today I’m excited to cruise around with Shirley Wu, investor at the Partnership Fund for New York City (NYC). Are you ready to be inspired?

Spiffy: Hi Shirley, thanks a million for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge is the Partnership Fund for NYC addressing?

Shirley: It’s great to be here, Spiffy! The Partnership Fund for NYC's goal is to lead NYC toward a stronger, more inclusive future. We invest in innovative entrepreneurs who are contributing to a more robust and inclusive economy in NYC. Our investments focus on two categories. First, expanding opportunitywe prioritize initiatives that create jobs and support social entrepreneurship, particularly in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Second, sparking innovationwe facilitate the growth of emerging industries so that NYC is at the forefront of innovation, remains a hub for exceptional talent, and is positioned for the future.

Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?

Shirley: I was born and raised in NYC, so part of what motivates me is to give back to the city that I grew up in. But what really inspired me was a quote by Winston Churchill: "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." And it is true. There is a fulfillment and joy that comes with aligning career and purpose. And the best part about working in impact investing is that you're not alone. You're surrounded by entrepreneurs, investors, the public sector, and everyone in between, all striving to tackle these large complex issues, all trying to make this world a better place.

Spiffy: That’s really inspiring! What would you say is the impact of your work?

Shirley: The Partnership Fund for NYC makes impact investing across all industries including financial inclusion, sustainable transportation, urban resiliency, workforce development, waste management, circular economy, small business support, decarbonization, and more! One of our recent investments Kiip is a social impact investment meant to improve access to public services through secure, cloud-based document storage. The financing supports Kiip as it helps government agencies and individuals store key personal documents to improve access to public assistance and services, particularly for at-risk individuals. This investment is part of the fund’s commitment to invest in new models for social inclusion.

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Shirley—it’s been an honor!

Shirley Wu works in impact investing at the Partnership Fund for New York City (NYC). Prior to joining the fund, Shirley held various roles in global investment strategy research, equity research, and wholesale credit at Bank of America. She holds a degree in finance and global business management. (Nominated by Gemma Lenowitz at Samvid Ventures. First published on the Ladderworks website on December 6, 2023.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Sujit Kunte. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.