Monday
October 25
2010

Scott Anderson

Next Year?s SoCap@State to Comprise An Expansive ?Ecosystem?

For organizers of the Social Capital Markets conference (SoCap), it’s hard to fathom a stronger endorsement:

“I also urge you to become involved with the social entrepreneurship movement, which is proving every day that there is money to be made through socially responsible investments. Putting financial and social capital to work is one of our goals. And next year we will host a conference for social entrepreneurs and investors in Washington, called SoCap – s-o-c-a-p – @State.”

That was U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressing the Commonwealth Club of California. As was first (at least by my reckoning) mentioned by Sean Stannard-Stockton, CEO of Tactical Philanthropy Advisors, in a recent blog post. I emailed Kevin Jones, a principal at Good Capital and co-founder of SoCap, to find out a bit more on what this really means for the organization and the sector writ large.

“I think it shows a surprising willingness to link up with the values of social entrepreneurs and incorporate it into how they view the world and the State Department’s role in it,” Jones wrote. “I think SoCap did what it was designed to do; provoke thought in a context where you are meeting and talking with people who are otherwise out of your orbit, but with whom you share a passion to make a difference in the world.”

And how will this new partnership with the State Department impact next year’s agenda? There are two, top-of-mind outcomes, he said. For one, considering the corporate CEOs and the influential cultural figures with which Clinton has access, this linkup will highlight some of the people who have shaped the movement and forge new partnerships.

Secondly, they are looking at “holistic social enterprise ecosystems” that are comprised of multiple social enterprises working together. Specifically, the focus will be on collaborative projects and a mature, resilient, systems approach to things like investing in conflict zones, with commitments tied to milestones, Jones said.

As examples he noted Haiti Onward, which is bringing together housing, clean water, connectivity and adolescent mental healthcare with development agencies and related groups like Inveneo.

“Think of it as Clinton Global Initiative meets It Takes a Village,” he said.

It’s still relatively early for this direction, but look for it to be a theme at SocapEurope, which is set for May 31-June 2 in Amsterdam. While that conference obviously will have an EU focus, Jones notes they are going back to the historic Amsterdam Bourse, considered the world’s first stock exchange, as a way of looking forward.

“We think it’s time to do it over again, capital markets 2.0, the social capital market, the market at the intersection of money and meaning,” he said. “And we are really interested in the ways we are planning to include indigenous voices, indigenous capital that invests against a multigenerational concept of return.”

Jones admits he probably has a naive hope that social capital markets can preserve the founding elements of the movement, which he believes has slipped away to some “market facing portions” of microfinance.

“The ways that the capital market are broken are pretty clear,” he wrote. “Beyond mispricing risk, it sold a destructive myth that we all were part of buying into, as consumers and investors. Now we need a capital market that includes social and environmental externalities, both negative and positive, pricing environmental services, etc.”

He went on to add:

“The power is rapidly moving to the people, to people powered capital, built in an economy where sharing well leads to higher profitability and productivity and better social relationships and a lower collective footprint. That’s a model that works in San Francisco and in Uganda.”

If it comes as advertised, SoCap@State could bridge many sector communities as well, and help establish that “ecosystem” everyone talks about: Public, private and philanthropic.

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