Money as medicine: a Q&A with Sage Lacerte

Sage Lacerte, founder and CEO of the Sage Initiative.
Sage Lacerte, founder and CEO of Sage Initiative. Photo by Jeffrey Bosdet.

When Sage Lacerte decided to invest her savings, she didn’t realize it would be a pivotal moment, leading her to found the Sage Initiative, the first and only impact investment group for Indigenous women. With a focus on age 18 to 29 year olds — a group who will mature as peers with Lacerte — the Sage Initiative received federal funding and is recruiting nationally for ten initial participants whose six months of financial training, “guided by the need to heal from trauma associated with money,” will result in investments ranging from $1,000 to $50,000.

What was your investing experience?

I wanted to use my money for my people and for my community. I know that is a shared trait with a lot of Indigenous women. I knew that there would be a huge network who also believe that if you have extra money, it shouldn’t just sit under your mattress or in a bank — it can be used to be generative.

Why is it important for Indigenous women to learn to invest?

It’s important for us to become investors again because that’s our natural way as matriarchs, our leaders. In our matrilineal societies, the matriarchs decided what the needs are of the community. So by becoming investors, we are healing. That’s very central to the work of decolonizing, and it’s very central to the way that Indigenous commerce systems have worked for a very long time.

How do you address Indigenous values around money?

We want to shift the narrative because the systems of capitalism use wealth as a tool to divide people based on social class, and that system was not built with Indigenous people in mind. We are restoring our balance within ourselves and with land. We are decolonizing wealth and restoring money as medicine.

What is the goal?

Our vision is to enable this national ecosystem — to train and bring together many Indigenous women impact investors. The definition of impact investment is equally valuing social, environmental and financial return. So it’s our hope that we can create an Indigenous economy with those values.

*Money As Medicine wording is from Edgar Villanueva’s book, Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance.

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