Diana Hollmann

Countdown to SOCAP/Europe Begins

It’s time to get out your agenda and start with detailed planning: SOCAP/Europe just announced its lineup of speakers and sessions.

From May 30 to June 1 and very much in the spirit of shaping a quickly evolving market place, SOCAP/Europe will take place at historic Beurs van Berlange, the ‘Mother of Markets’. It’s the place where the very first stock exchange was established in 1602. Some 400 years later, Beurs van Berlange in Amsterdam will be the venue where money meets meaning for three days.

The conference schedule is a result of careful listening and co-creation. In order to lay the groundwork for the conference, the SOCAP/Europe team embarked on a listening tour across the continent. From Amsterdam, Malmo, London, Zurich, to Paris the team asked key stakeholders what they want to see and hear at SOCAP/Europe, what innovations and entrepreneurs should be presented, and what social problems should be addressed. The output is a schedule with 70 panels, plenary, keynote and workshop sessions organized along seven tracks:

  • The ‘Impact Investing’ track will include panels on topics ranging from the evolution of Social Capital Markets to specific marketplaces newly set up in the social investment space.
  • The ‘Global Issues/Local Solutions’ track looks at approaches targeting developing countries, including sessions with a sector perspective such as energy and agriculture or investing in the ‘missing middle’ more broadly.
  • In the ‘Infrastructure & Innovation’ track you will become involved in discussions around e.g. the role of government in impact investing and regarding opportunities in transitioning from non-profit loan funds to for-profit equity funds.
  • The ‘Investing in fragile states and the Middle East’ track promises interesting insights into the potential of social entrepreneurship to tackle regional challenges and the state of impact investing in the Middle East and North Africa.
  • The ‘Stories of Social Enterprise’ track tells about sectors such as media and entertainment, housing, and more broadly about seed funding and angel networks.
  • The ‘Workshops’ track provides several interactive sessions that address a wide variety of issues: from changing the Ashoka model to fit Europe, myths around capital up to impact measurement.
  • The ‘Entrepreneurs’ Clubhouse’ track provides entrepreneurs with room to discuss lessons learned from seeking seed capital, the importance of being unreasonable and several more.

For the preliminary schedule and a list of conference sessions, have a look at SOCAP/Europe’s website. Make sure to check back regularly, as it will evolve from a preliminary version to the final schedule over the next few weeks. Also, the list of speakers is worth a look. Next to names that are quite familiar to the NextBillion.net readership, including Harold Rosen from Grassroots Business Fund and William Foote from Root Capital, you will find key players from Europe-based institutions. Felix Oldenburg from Ashoka Europe, Angela Lawaldt from German BonVenture, Rod Schwartz from British ClearlySo, Jean-Philippe de Schrevel from Swiss BlueOrchard Finance and Thierry Sanders from Dutch BID Network Foundation to name just a few.

A conference on social capital markets would not be complete without the capital demand side of the equation: the social entrepreneurs who work on the ground. SOCAP/Europe recently announced 49 social entrepreneurs from around the globe who won a scholarship to attend the conference in Amsterdam.

As a European myself and involved in the impact investing space, I am really excited about SOCAP coming to the continent! After first gaining insight into the current state of discussion in the US, I had the opportunity to throw my assumptions about Europe lagging behind overboard last year. Working in the UK and attending the Impact Investing Forum in London, I was impressed by the many initiatives and innovations evolving in Europe and the big appetite of stakeholders to connect and collaborate: The UK is a vibrant space for social entrepreneurship with innovative concepts such as the Social Impact Bond being developed and put in practice, Luxembourg is actively exploring on how to provide the right legislation to make impact investing the ’next big thing’, the continent is home to one third of registered impact investors, and Europe is more effective than US funds in attracting institutional investors (for some elaboration have a look at the SOCAP/Europe article ’A Beginner’s Guide to Impact Investing in Europe’). With 600 investors, entrepreneurs, intermediaries, academics and public sector representatives, SOCAP/Europe will be a great venue to take the conversation further, learn from each other and nurture collaboration within Europe and beyond.

NextBillion.net staff writers Martin Herrndorf and myself will report from SOCAP/Europe and hope to meet you there. If you haven’t registered yet, make sure to use this link to receive a 15 percent discount for NextBillion readers. If you are a social entrepreneur and missed applying for the SOCAP/Europe scholarships you may also want to check out the scholarship opportunity with UnLtd.

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