With five months to go until SOCAP18, it’s time to give a preview of the themes that are emerging and being developed into a range of formats and session proposals. Because SOCAP believes in the wisdom of the crowd over a top-down approach, our themes are developed through listening to the field and pulling out areas of energetic debate, untapped opportunity, and timely insight. Some years, like this one, that leads to a particularly diverse set of topics and themes that may seem random at first glance, but works well within the festival-like atmosphere of SOCAP. As we enter the last few days of SOCAP Open submissions, there is still opportunity for new themes to emerge but here is what we are seeing so far:
Gender + Markets
Long before #metoo and Time’s Up, core members of the SOCAP community raised issues of gender equity, women’s empowerment, and investing in women and girls. This community has advanced conversations around a gender lens in investing and entrepreneurship for many years and we’re seeing many new developments in this field to elevate gender to a central theme of SOCAP18.
The conversations and organizational change sparked by the inaugural Racial Equity track at SOCAP17 have continued across other convenings and collaborations this past year. We will continue to deeply explore this complex topic to support all stakeholders building the impact economy in setting a foundation of racial equity, and prioritizing a diversity of perspectives for truly inclusive organizations and practices.
An amazing range of stakeholders in the African impact ecosystem reached out this year to support a greater presence of African entrepreneurs and investors at SOCAP18. With help from various ecosystem builders, we will have a robust discussion of the gaps and opportunities in social capital markets across the continent, and specific to regions and sectors, with African representation much greater than previous years.
How might we design waste out of systems, and build an economy that is restorative and regenerative? Beyond being an interesting theoretical concept, recent work to shift various (food, fashion, consumer packaging,electronics) systems toward a circular economy is uncovering massive investment opportunities that are showing up all across the ecosystem, engaging corporate, seed stage, and institutional investors among others.
Real estate is an anchor of the market in most places and investors can transform communities by applying a lens of affordability, walkability, transportation, access to healthy food, services, and other considerations that bring a more holistic and sustainable approach to development. Institutional-scale investment opportunities are emerging that build on conversations of affordable housing, creative placemaking, and social determinants of health from previous SOCAP programs.
In the field of international development, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have catalyzed a wave of new public-private partnerships to drive more capital into achieving the global goals. As a longtime platform for breaking down silos, SOCAP is thrilled to host conversations of innovative financial instruments that meet the risk, return, and impact expectations of a range of investors to unlock more capital to address social and environmental challenges.
And, as always, at the core of our gathering are conversations that squarely focus on the why and the how of Impact Investing – the state of the field, new product innovation, infrastructure and service providers, impact measurement and evaluation – as well as conversations that elevate Meaning inside and outside of markets, because integrating our beliefs, communities, and families into conversations about business and value will lead us to a more sustainable future.
There are many other emerging themes that warrant more than a session or two and so we will be using tagging to help organize the content and guide attendees beyond the themes. Some of these include Indigenous Communities, Impact Journalism, Alternative Ownership Models, Refugees, Blockchain for Impact, Opportunity Zones, Place-based Investing, Financial Inclusion, and more that will surface as the final SOCAP Open submissions come in.
SOCAP Open: Send Us Your Session Idea Today
Even with the long and diverse set of topics listed here, there will be content that falls outside of these areas on the SOCAP18 agenda. SOCAP isn’t constrained to these themes – the nearly 600 people that have already registered before any themes or speakers have been announced know that there is something for everyone. Add your ideas – aligned with these themes or not – to SOCAP Open before submissions close this week and plan to join us October 23-26 in San Francisco!ADD YOUR SESSION IDEA