Francisco Noguera

Social Capital Markets: “The Sector Still in A Rudimentary Stage”

Fort MasonAsad Mahmood, who leads Deutsche Bank’s social investing arm, took the stage for today’s keynote address at the Social Capital Markets conference. His intervention closed the formal sessions that took place during the first day of conference.

I met Asad a couple of years back in Cartagena, Colombia, during a Microfinance conference where he was intervening. Back then he spoke about mainstream financial institutions entering the stage for investment in microfinance, and today he did the same but referring to the broader “social investment”.

I thought he did a good job summarizing some key trends that surround this space, which some times seem difficult to keep up with given the pace at which new players and entrepreneurs seem to be entering the stage day after day.

He began by offering some thoughts on human nature and the underlying threads that make entrepreneurship a viable solution to today’s social and environmental challenges. In his words, “what separates humans from chimpancees is not language, or tools… it’s economics.” He then spoke about the shifts of paradigm in business and philanthropy that are taking place and allowing this new breed of investment –social investment– to surface.

But “this sector is still in a rudimentary stage”, Mr. Mahmood said. I couldn’t agree more, and it makes it all but more interesting to watch. The conversations taking place these days at SoCap will hopefully bring more lights to key questions, like those of liquidity of social investments, social returns and their measurements, and the creation of sound and sustainable ecosystems of support for organizations and entrepreneurs in this space.In a nutshell, the broad social enterprise sector still looks like a million particles, each one trying to find its way or its path and match. Its maturity will reflect on greater consolidation and efficiency in fulfilling the mission of improving the lives for those at the base of the pyramid.?

Tomorrow will be a very interesting day to watch here at SoCap, with many conversations taking place and relating to specific and detailed aspects of the sector. Rob, myself and our team of bloggers will be covering most of the sessions so stay tuned and chime into the conversation with your thoughts and comments!