Francisco Noguera

Who’s Going to SOCAP 09? Gil Crawford from Microvest Capital Management

Like Alvaro Rodriguez, Gil Crawford will be at the Social Capital Markets Conference this coming September. Mr. Crawford is the Chief Executive Officer of MicroVest Capital Management and is responsible for leading the company’s investment, business development, operations and strategy. He led the launch of MicroVest I, LP, the first commercial private equity vehicle focused on microfinance in North America. He has over 20 years experience with microfinance institutions and capital markets, and has worked extensively in Latin America and Africa, as well as in Asia.

Previously, Mr. Crawford worked for the Latin American Financial Markets Division at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), created and ran Seed Capital Development Fund, and was the Assistant Project Director for Africa Venture Capital Project. Mr. Crawford received his bank training at Chase Manhattan Bank in the mid-80’s after working in Africa for the Red Cross and State Department. He graduated from SAIS at Johns Hopkins University in 1983 and Bates College in 1980. Mr. Crawford is currently on the Board of Directors for DC Central Kitchens.

Gil kindly agreed to answer’s questions about his participation in the upcoming SOCAP Conference in San Francisco, for which NextBillion readers have a special 30% discount in registration. Where do you think the social capital space is now, in 2009? Where do you see it going in the next 12-18 months?

Gil Crawford: The framework that describes the 4 phases of industry evolution (by Jessica Freireich and Elizabeth Fulton at the Monitor Institute) is very helpful to understand where the different social investing sectors are today and where they are headed. These 4 stages are (i.) uncoordinated innovation, (ii.) marketplace building, (iii.) capturing the value of the marketplace, and (iv.) maturity. (Editor’s note: The framework is described in Monitor Institute’s report “Investing for Social and Environmental Impact”)

On one hand, microfinance has entered the third stage. Many microfinance institutions (MFIs) have developed effective and efficient models while maintaining healthy growth. This has helped them to become profitable and begin to attract commercial funding. I expect the sector to continue attracting commercial funding over the next year or so.

On the other hand, many other social sectors, such as education, affordable housing, energy provision, etc., are in the first and second phases of uncoordinated innovation and marketplace building. Individual businesses and organizations are still in the learning process to find effective and efficient models in order to attract the commercial funding that microfinance has achieved. Over the next 12-18 months, I expect to see the market building process continue in these sectors. Development finance institutions and other mission driven organizations have a great opportunity to play the role of accelerating this process by funding these sectors, just as they did in microfinance 10-15 years ago. What is different about SOCAP versus other conferences?

Gil Crawford: SOCAP has a very strong online presence that is carried through all year long. What useful lessons / connections came out of SOCAP08 for you?

Gil Crawford: Katherine Fulton’s keynote address highlighting the 4 phases of industry evolution was very inspiring and useful. What are you hoping to get out of the conference this year?

Gil Crawford: I’m hoping to increase awareness of the challenges facing the Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) and ways to overcome these challenges using the lessons we learned through building the microfinance sector.

5. Which plenary, panel or speaker are you most looking forward to?

Sonal Shah’s keynote address and the panel I’m speaking on, “Beyond MFI”.