A Few Interesting Reads on SocialEarth
Innov8Social on SocialEarth
A Few Interesting Reads on SocialEarth
DayOne Response demonstrates in this short training video taken in Haiti. Water filtered using DayOne Waterbags and PUR packets meet the World Health Organization guidelines for drinking water.
The DayOne Waterbags may be a scaleable solution, since they take up little space when empty, can turn almost any water into clean drinking water, and can be distributed quickly after a disaster, which can free up resources, and can give affected individuals quicker access to safe water.
The Partnership Mindset
The session traced the path of how 3 distinct sectors could align on the same initiative. Hamaoui framed the discussion with the concept of the “partnership mindset”, i.e. social entrepreneurs looking beyond only a monetary ask when approaching investors, and engaging in multiple value conversations, marketplaces, and landscapes…that could in turn lead to capital investment.
So, what does that mean?
Luckily, to break down the concept of “partnership mindset”, Hamaoui outlined the 4 types of commodities (i.e. the 4 C’s) that can be traded by social entrepreneurs, investors, government, non-profits, thought-leaders, banks, etc.
4 Commodities Exchanged Under the Partnership Mindset
1. Capital is monetary investment, and is often the primary commodity sought.
2. Capacity is the ability to do something on the ground such as product design, product delivery, product assessment. Groups that are familiar with an area, region, or community may be able to offer capacity commodity to another group.
3. Credibility is name/brand recognition that can lend expertise or experience. This could be helpful in building networks, getting meetings with decision-makers, and building a presence in a new region or field.
4. Creativity is the out-of-the-box solutions that can result from connecting with another group in the same space/geography and leveraging each group’s experience and resources.
Key Points from Each Panelist
The 3 panelists were dynamic and enthused to tell the story of Imago, the joint project aimed to address 2 business challenges in Brazil: consumer financial education and packaging and recycling.
Lala Faiz, Partnerships Advisor in the U.S. Secretary of State’s Office of Global Partnership Initiatives (government)
- one of the Secretary of State’s new initiatives is investing with impact, and the office sought to create a new partnership in Brazil to unlock opportunities for business and society
- identified 2 targeted business challenges which had high market demand, for which there was a sizeable market opportunity, and which would yield significant social and environmental impact
- but they needed partners to both invest in the initiative and provide intellectual capital through capacity-building, credibility, and creativity to create sustainable market-based solution
Cameron Peake, Mercy Corps Social Innovations Officer (non-profit)
- social investment is a critical catalyst to longer term sustainable social change
- mitigating risk, and seeding longer term commercial opportunities that can impact society …that’s why they (as a non-profit) got involved and provided seed funding for new ideas (innovation)
- Mercy Corps was able to offer capacity, credibility, and capital via global best practices, knowledge of needs on the ground, and use of strategic subsidy
Michelle Viegas, Office of Outreach & Partnerships at Inter-American Development Bank (financial)
- did not provide funding, but did provide intellectual capital and credibility via contacts (banks, investors, VC/private investors, govt, corporations)
Wikipedia defines impact investing as:
an investment strategy whereby an investor proactively seeks to place capital in businesses that can generate financial returns as well s an intentional social and/or environmental goal.
The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) defines impact investing as:
Impact investments aim to solve social or environmental challenges while generating financial returns, which can range from producing a return of principal capital to offering market-rate or even market-beating financial returns.
Investors are increasingly seeking impact investing opportunities or investments that generate a financial return while solving social and environmental problems. The Monitor Institute’s recent report on “Investing for Social & Environmental Impact” estimates that Impact Investing has the potential to grow to about 1% of total managed assets, which would result in about $500 B of capital channeled toward social and environmental impact.
The Economist, in their recent article “Happy Returns: birth of a virtuous new asset class” impact investing is explained as:
designed to yield both a financial return and a broader benefit to society.
The Rockefeller Foundation explains the concept:
Impact investing— which helps address social and/or environmental problems while also turning a profit—could unlock substantial for-profit investment capital to complement philanthropy in addressing pressing social challenges.
Can social innovation have its cake and eat it too? Is it possible to create market solutions that create social and environmental good but that also can put capital in the pockets of entrepreneurs, investors, companies, and even governments? Not everyone is so sure.
There has been some criticism of the concept and viability of impact investing.
For example, Next Billion posted this article “The Dangerous Promise of Impact Investing–From Ashoka Europe” quoted Ashoka’s Europe director’s qualms with impact investing:
“Great social entrepreneurs look for the fastest way to change the system with the cheapest form of funding available – not for the safest way to produce surpluses to pay back expensive loans or mezzanine capital.” This exposes the weakness of the impact investing movement, which is predicated on the ability, and willingness, of social ventures to generate income.
And, in the same article in which the Economist outlines the concept, it also outlines some skepticism:
New regulations are needed (to clarify, for instance, whether pension funds can invest with an explicitly social purpose). More people need to be tempted out of mainstream finance. Better metrics for social impact are essential. None of this is easy, especially in turbulent times.
If you have been following the news of AB 361–the CA bill that would create a new corporate form for social enterprise called a benefit corporation. You may be wondering about the status of the bill.In Review
As a quick summary, AB 361 passed in a vote in the California Assembly on Monday August 29th 2011. It has been forwarded to Governor Jerry Brown’s Office for final approval.
After speaking with the office of Assemblymember Jared Huffman, sponsor of AB 361, the update is that Governor has until October 9, 2011 to make a final decision on the bill.
What You Can Do
Here are a few things that can make you a savvy social enterprise citizen and supporter.
1. Become better informed about AB 361. You can take a spin through a few of the recent posts on AB 361, visit Assemblymember Huffman’s page, or read about the policy and similar legislation that has passed in other states on the B Lab website.
2. Learn about other social enterprise initiatives in CA. Learn about the key features of AB 361 and SB 201—which would create flexible purpose corporations in California, and which is also at the Governor’s desk. The 2 bills are not mutually exclusive—i.e. they both can be passed.
3. Sign the Care2 petition in support of AB 361. You can read more about the petition and use the widget here. It is a quick and easy way to show your support.
4. Write a letter to Governor Brown’s office. With nearly a month of time on the clock, there is ample opportunity to get involved and write in your support for corporate structures for social enterprise. You can read a sample letter here.
SOCAP11: Money + Meaning = ?
September 6-9th 2011 marked the 4th annual Social Capital Markets Conference (SOCAP). SOCAP connects social innovators including investors, social entrepreneurs, foundations, non-profit institutions, designers, ‘social’ media, and thought leaders.
As the best attended SOCAP to date—with well over 1500 attendees—this year’s conference focused on impact investing and featured a number of sessions that explored the financial angle of investing in social ventures. It also took a look at the big why—why it matters to invest in projects that have meaning or create some material positive impact. And it delved in to the big how’s—how to design for social innovation, how to build audience, and how to secure seed funding and investment.
SOCAP11 was an insider’s conference—with plenty of financial-speak, legalese, design lingo, and social innovation buzzwords to tire out your Twitter fingertips.
And SOCAP11 was a place for newbies too, providing a guided path into the world of social impact investing through a broad variety of session tracks, ‘open space’ time for impromptu sessions, and plenary group sessions to bring everyone together and to help distill the deluge of useful information.
In fact, there was a balanced buffet of tracks an attendee could choose from to explore their interest in the field, and even partake in a few “Wild Card” sessions that didn’t squarely fall into a track but were topics of interest. And you could mix, match, sample, and float in and out of tracks based on your preferences.
Doing Well By Doing Good
A huge focus of the conference was exploring the meaning behind social innovation. And time and again individuals from various niches mentioned this phrase…”doing well by doing good.” It seems to be the call that social entrepreneurs, designers, socially-inspired professionals and impact investors alike are determined to answer.
After tweeting live from Dreamforce and appreciating the experience as a way to share and learn from various perspectives, I joined a number of other regulars tweeting live from #SOCAP11. It was a great way to connect in real-time. There was even a “tweet-up” to meet the fellow tweeters live.
Parse, Share, Repeat
I met a number of interesting innovation start-ups, learned even more about the benefit corporation movement, and was introduced to a plethora of new keywords. I look forward to parsing out the ripe picks and sharing them with Innov8Social readers. So, don’t change that dial—I will be sharing my experience through photos, video, informative posts, buzzword drilldowns, and reflections on Innov8Social in the upcoming days. To stay connected, just click the SOCAP11 tag to see all Innov8Social coverage of the event.
Catch Up on SOCAP11
There are a number of ways to get your fill on the conference and individual sessions. Here are a few:
This excerpt from SOCAP Convener Kevin D. Jones in the conference guide explains a little background behind SOCAP:
“SOCAP’s mission is to help create social and economic power for the poor. And we help catalyze a for-profit market to make that happen. Our initial goal in creating SOCAP was to show that the market between giving and investing was real, that it was big and that it was growing…”
Follow our live tweets of SOCAP11 @innov8social on Twitter. You can also search #SOCAP11 on Twitter for related tweets. After the conference, read posts by clicking on the SOCAP11 tag on Innov8Social.
For social innovators and social entrepreneurs “social” in this context relates to a cause or public benefit, as outlined in this definition:
social – “of or relating to human society, the interaction of the individual and the group, or the welfare of human beings as members of society.” <social institutions> (Merriam-Webster definition)
For cloud computing afficianados, “social” refers to dynamic digital, linked online content, as articulated in this definition:
social – “tending to form cooperative and interdependent relationships with others.” (Merriam-Webster definition)
So, Which Is It?
It’s both, of course. The two definitions of social share a major similarity—they both involve connecting. In the social innovation context, is connecting with communities, the environment, the downtrodden, animal welfare, civil rights, societal ills, education, underrepresented populations, and other causes or communities.
In the computing context, “social” refers to connecting online, through social networks, social media, and online platforms and networks that enable online exchanges easily and in real-time. It is the ability to voice a concern or praise not on an individual basis or in a vacuum, but in a crowded room, in which you are shoulder-to-shoulder with companies, manufacturers, media, various other constituencies, and other users of the product or service.
While we may try to correct those who confuse the two popular definitions of social—in reality, it may be time to somehow reconcile the connotations and allow enable the definitions to be connected.
Social relates to cause. And in today’s society, championing a cause will effectively call for an effective social content strategy.
So the next time someone asks you, “do you mean social, or social?”
Just say yes.
California’s version of the benefit corporation legislation is AB 361. And perhaps what is most appealing is the simplicity and unintrusiveness of the bill. It is voluntary—a choice for boards of directors to discuss, and for shareholders to decide.
If anything, AB 361 is starting this chat with a question…if we create a new type of business to recognize social enterprise, will they come?
Passing AB 361 lets this question be asked to California businesses and consumers. Read below to read Innov8Social’s letter of support for AB 361 to Governor Jerry Brown.
Letter of Support for AB 361
#getintheknow so you can #goanddo!