Josh Cleveland

Kicking Off SOCAP 10, Novogratz Sets the Tone

SoCap 2010 kicked off earlier today with talks from Jacqueline Novogratz, founder and CEO of Acumen Fund; Matt Flannery, co-founder and CEO of Kiva; Kushal Chakrabarti, founder and CEO of Vittana. I’ve provided an overview of Jacqueline’s talk below. Look for notes on Matt and Kushal’s talks soon.

As Kevin Jones, creator of SoCap mentioned, Jacqueline hardly needs an introduction. (But here’s some background just in case.) During her talk, she skipped right to the point: We’re working in a new and nascent industry that is trying to define itself and has a long way to go. Her remarks on what needs to happen next and what SoCap 2010 participants should focus on reflect the sentiments of many in the development community: Set expectations in the marketplace for investments, develop better metrics (both qualitative and quantitative), get clear on trade-offs in exit strategies for investments, focus on big policy changes, and figure out ways to utilize talent flocking to this industry. (To answer the question Francisco raised in the end of his post last Friday: There is a talent surplus, a big one. But most organizations haven’t figured out how to harness it yet to accomplish the specific tasks at hand.)

Jacqueline also emphasized the need to see progress in each of these areas in the context of current global factor, including the financial crisis and global warming. There is a huge current opportunity to help rebuild the current system and a massive need to address the pressing challenges of global warming.

Perhaps most importantly, Jacqueline suggested that all of us try to understand our work in the context of a broader movement. She offered a quote from John F. Kennedy to highlight the need to work together: “Few will have the greatness to bend history; but each of us can work to change a small portion of the events, and in the total of all these acts will be written the history of this generation.”

In short, we need to think about what we’re doing as part of a movement to solve some of the world’s development issues using the power of markets.

If the buzz at SoCap today is any indication of what’s to come, it’s safe to say that everyone here is focused on just that point.