Archive for the ‘Impact Investing’ Category

10 SOCAP Scholarship Entrepreneurs Share About the Value of the Social Capital Markets Conference

March 23rd, 2017

Now is the time to apply for the 2017 SOCAP Entrepreneur Scholarship. Every year hundreds of entrepreneurs from around the world apply for the SOCAP scholarship, from all sectors and stages of growth. This year up to 150 of the most innovative ventures will be selected to receive:

  • Free SOCAP17 full conference pass (valued at $1495)
  • Exclusive access to the Impact Accelerator @SOCAP
  • Hostel accommodations for the duration of the conference
  • Recognition and high visibility at SOCAP17

Year after year SOCAP scholarship awardees tell us that they received so much more than anything we can list in bullet points. We asked the 2016 class of entrepreneurs to tell us in their own words about the things they valued most about their SOCAP experience.

My SOCAP Experience

Of all the wonders of SOCAP, the most interesting is the entrepreneurs you will meet through the scholarship program. This is perhaps the most valuable yet undervalued aspect of the scholarship. Entrepreneurs are truly passionate about their work and learning about yours, they become a sounding board and resource throughout the rest of the weekend. Cuthbert A. Onikute, Dechets a l’Or

The entrepreneur scholarship was a fantastic experience for me – the insight I got from the speakers and my fellow entrepreneurs was super helpful in improving my pitch before I took it into the market. You can’t help but get better being in the same place with so many other smart, inspiring entrepreneurs. Mike Geddes, The Third Half

Attending SOCAP is a highly valuable experience for a variety of reasons. You…have access to thought leaders, investors, program administrators and entrepreneurs. As a result, you can take away new knowledge and perspectives on approaches to making social impact as well as for making your program attractive and beneficial. Ira Sockowitz, Learning Game Studios

It was a life changing experience, as we were able to understand how the capital markets work and the scale we can reach with our companies if we combine the right elements. Inspiring entrepreneurs already reaching millions of people, tons of connections and new friends from all around the World. Antonio Nuno, Someone Somewhere

As a sole founder, one can feel a bit isolated so I loved the opportunity to interact with so many entrepreneurs with similar goals and challenges! Naa-Sakle Akuete, Eu’Genia Shea

The SOCAP scholarship allowed me to affordably attend a world class conference and connect with mentors and other entrepreneurs. Eli Mitchell-Larson, Sun Farmer

Being an scholarship entrepreneur truly made the SOCAP experience great!  We were recognized by other participants, got to network with our peers, and got great tips to prepare for the conference. Afzal Habib, Kidogo

SOCAP ’16 was an incredible experience. TruClinic was given a great opportunity to expand our technology and impact to a global audience. I can’t wait to attend next year! Justin Kahn, TruClinic

Being a scholarship entrepreneur helped me forge lasting relationships with fellow mission-driven entrepreneurs. It’s great motivation to meet others working so hard to make a positive impact, and commiserate about the challenges of building a business that turns a profit and changes the world! The one-day accelerator really helped me make the most out of the rest of SOCAP. If you’re an entrepreneur thinking of coming to SOCAP, applying to be a SOCAP scholarship entrepreneur is really a no-brainer.” Cullen Schwarz, DoneGood

There were lots of accomplished social entrepreneurs and innovators who are working on projects or facing challenges similar to mine, presenting amazing opportunities to listen and learn. Sam Gwer, Ubuntu-Afya Project

Entrepreneurs: Ready to Join us at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco 2017?

Apply for a SOCAP Scholarship Here

If you know an innovative social entrepreneur that would benefit from the SOCAP Entrepreneur Scholarship, please share this information with them or encourage them to apply.

2017 Application Deadlines

The deadline to apply is June 1st for internationally based entrepreneurs who need an early decision (for visa application purposes). The final application deadline for all entrepreneurs is June 30th.

*Please note: Scholarship does not include travel expenses.

Notes on Movement Building from a Convener

March 16th, 2017

By Kevin Jones

Movements happen when people who thought they were alone discover valuable strangers who become unlikely allies. I am flying to Armenia tomorrow to keynote the Impact Investing for Development Summit (IID) convened by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and knowledge partner INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Initiative. The Summit will bring together development agencies, sovereign funds from the Nordics, Eastern European and Middle Eastern impact investors so that development practitioners can figure out how to work seriously with impact investors. The reality of climate change and societal risk has led IID Summit participants to recognize that public funds and philanthropic funds are not enough to handle the task.

At the same time, we at SOCAP are convening a session in June in Manhattan to see what it will take to integrate impact investing with Wall Street at scale. That initiative, The Good Capital Project, (GCP) will be a two year online mapping project that will convene people from Wall Street, the financial sector, impact investing and the social capital market to catalyze collaboration and accelerate capital flows into purpose driven investments. After our first meeting in June, GCP participants will convene again at SOCAP in San Francisco in October, and on other event platforms as the participants require. These people may have never worked together before GPC, but SOCAP’s secret sauce is bringing the people out of their tents at the oasis; valuable strangers discovering they can be unlikely allies. Movement building, even among strangers, is right up our alley.
 

5 Ways to Be a Clean Money Revolutionary in 2017

February 24th, 2017

A SOCAP Guest Post by Joel Solomon

My first book, The Clean Money Revolution, is coming out in May. So, you may be asking, what is clean money? 

Clean Money is money aligned with purpose: money that is about more than self-interest; money that prioritizes the commons; money that makes the world better. Clean money regenerates ecosystems, builds fairness and equity for people, and helps achieve a healthy balance between people and planet.

Clean Money is revolutionary, and it’s also evolutionary. It expands our view of finance from a bank balance, or net worth calculation, or the name of a company you own stock in.

Clean Money builds true security and real prosperity, based on long-term thinking, and a safe, fair resilient future.

Clean Money considers where materials came from, who assembled them, and whether that process was just, regenerative, or destructive. From there, choices can be made. Choices that factor in the future of civilization.

We are in the midst of a great economic shift. It is a time of big challenges but also huge potential. The clean money revolution is the biggest opportunity for making money in history. Reinventing how we steward resources, feed, house, educate, transport, keep healthy, and employ humanity, while protecting natural systems, and the biosphere, are the prosperity drivers that can give us 500 more years of generative civilization.

This revolution can be peaceful, joyous, and smart. You will make it real.

5 Clean Money Practices

1. Invest as if lives depend on you.

Because they do. Be proactive. Research options. Socially Responsible Investing (SRI): screening global stocks and bonds for “less bad”, is a basic first step. Clean money thinks through where materials came from, who assembled them, and whether that process was just, or unjust, regenerative or destructive.

2. Ask annoying questions.

Wealth managers are seeing the trend. More insistent questions will lead to new products in mutual funds, retirement plans, bank accounts, insurance, and wealth management. Cleaner consumer goods, sourcing policies, environmental regulations, fair pay, and reduced discrimination, will follow.

3. Spend + invest locally.

Strengthen community. Recirculate dollars. Make better jobs. You can choose where you shop. Make choices that align with YOUR values.

4. Agitate, agitate, agitate.

Stand for what you believe in. Research. Get informed. Insist. Model it. Tell your friends. Be courageous. Use your influence. Take risks. Then go further. A movement is well underway, gaining momentum. It’s early. You are a leader.

5. Remember your ancestral responsibilities.

We are all ancestors, bloodline procreators or not. The people of many tomorrows are watching us. They want us to be smart and own responsibility for how we live our lives, what we consume, who we disadvantage, how we participate as citizens, and how our actions contribute to a safer, more loving, more just future.

Transitioning to clean money is no dutiful, painful exercise in morality. It is inspiring, invigorating, satisfying, life-enhancing. It gives meaning, purpose, and personal agency.

That’s what I mean by the Clean Money Revolution.

See you there.

Joel Solomon will be hosting the SOCAP 365 event “Capital Shifts for a Regenerative Economy: A Holistic Approach to Trends & Opportunities” at Impact Hub Berkeley on Thursday, March 2, 2017 from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM. Join Joel and a panel of leading thinkers and practitioners to discuss coming shifts in capital and how a “clean money revolution” might help us build a regenerative economic system that works for all. Learn more and get your tickets here.

 


 

Joel Solomon is Co-Founder and Chair of Renewal Funds, Canada’s largest mission venture capital firm, with $98MM under management. Renewal Funds invests in Organics and Envirotech.

With Founder + Funder Carol Newell, Joel implemented a “whole portfolio activation to mission” strategy as leader of her “activist family office”. As ED of the Endswell Foundation they spent down a $20M endowment, leaving Tides Canada Foundation and Hollyhock as legacy charities while supporting BC’s renowned environmental community. As CEO of Renewal Partners’ seed capital fund over $10M was placed into dozens of green companies.

Impact Investing for the 99%: A New Path to Mainstreaming

February 3rd, 2017

A SOCAP Guest Post by Joshua Levin of OpenInvest

All investments have impact. But to-date, impact investing has been largely limited to small, private companies, and accessible only to accredited investors. What if it were possible for normal folks to easily allocate their retirement portfolios in such a way that maximized the impact of their investments on issues they care about – e.g. climate change, gun control, gender diversity, etc? Such an innovation would unlock vast amounts of capital and consciousness, catalyzing the true mainstreaming of impact investing.

Individual investors are currently being left out of powerful movement. In public equities, over US $1 Trillion has moved into Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) strategies annually over the last 5 years [1]. Yet only a small fraction appears to be owned by retail investors. This despite the fact that according to Morgan Stanley, over 70% of individual investors now say they want their money to align with their values [2]. Given this chasm in even the most liquid and marketable asset classes, small wonder that impact investors have focused instead on getting big checks from Limited Partners (LPs).

But this “missing retail” segment – the amount of SRI assets individuals should hold if responsible investing had the same proportional ownership structure as the normal stock market – represents an approximate $3.6 Trillion opportunity in the U.S. alone.

Here’s how we can close the gap:

The first blockage to mainstreaming is lack of awareness. Most financial intermediaries have stood as a roadblock, with some statistics saying fewer than 10% of advisors, for example, are highly interested in sustainable investing solutions [3]. There is certainly no shortage of sustainable fund options and other tools for investors to start driving change. But the incentives of the Wall Street food chain generally militate against transparency and customization. Rather, they promote a “leave it to the experts” mentality, so that they can continue to sell preset portfolios that protect their margins.

Fortunately, technology makes it possible to dis-intermediate agents who are standing in the way, and to customize portfolios that invest in companies whose impact is consistent with each person’s values. This is our approach at OpenInvest. By bypassing the entire “fund” model and algorithmically constructing each user’s portfolio, investing once again becomes personal, transparent, and impactful. Users can now fully customize their investment portfolios and retirement accounts to support the things they care about.

But this is just the beginning. By vertically integrating and replacing middlemen with computing power, individual investors can now take new actions any time they want – in response to real-world events – while their portfolios always stay balanced and tracking the market. They can have full transparency into what they own, they can vote in their own shareholder resolutions, and they can see rigorous reporting of their real-time social and environmental impacts.

To mainstream, we need to make responsible investing easy, visceral, and social. That requires advanced technology, but then translating that technology into user experience. We can’t claim to have fully cracked that nut, but we’re making sufficient strides. OpenInvest has experienced nearly 20% week-over-week growth since our launch at SOCAP16 in September. It’s clear that the demand for impact investing is real and all around us.

Innovating in public equities is the obvious first step to engaging individual, unaccredited investors. But it’s also the way to build a sufficient demand pipeline to incentivize the impact investing community to open up. Starting this year, we will begin swapping out pieces of portfolios with alternative, impact investing products that we know users care about.

There are already impact products in the retail market – from new crowdfunding equity platforms to Calvert Community Notes. But for the motivated individuals who buy these, what does it mean for their diversification? Are you overweight solar, Indonesia, your local community? We believe the key to liberating unaccredited impact investors is to start from the top-down, with a fully balanced responsible portfolio. We can then offer to replace slices with deeper impact products, while always maintaining portfolio-level diversification. As such, we welcome partners from the SOCAP community to help get products onto our platform for our growing base.

To be clear: retail investors of the future will enjoy similar performance and diversification as their parents. But their holdings will cut across impact asset classes, as they see and feel where their money is going and how they are shaping the world every day.

Following Trump’s election and his subsequent actions, there’s more demand than ever to find new channels to drive change. Yet while they picket in the streets and write monologues on Facebook, individuals are letting their most powerful weapon – their assets – collect dust. The key is to start by giving public markets back to the public. Then we can create a pipeline of capital to help scale impact investing, while in turn restructuring personal portfolios to truly engage our communities and the world. Through a combination of technology and psychology, we now have the tools to democratize capital. Let’s cross that tipping point together.


Article sources:

1) US SIF 2016

2) Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing

3) http://images.mscomm.morningstar.com/Web/MorningstarInc/%7Bf98afe5a-61b5-4b70-847f-54b8c3aa4788%7D_Morningstar-Mag_ESG_decjan16_Hale.pdf

SOCAP 365: Join Us in Conversation Year-Round

January 27th, 2017

By: Liz Maxwell, SOCAP 365 Product Manager

The world is very different since we gathered last September. Global markets will continue to be shaped by shifting political landscapes, at what feels distinctly like the beginning of a new era.

At SOCAP, we believe in cross-sector collaboration. We believe that diversity is a strength, that differing perspectives are valuable, and that the inclusion of broad voices is mandatory for meaningful dialogue. We know that market systems are dynamic and complex, and that sustained impact can only be built collectively over time.

In 2016, we launched the SOCAP 365 year-round event series. The intention is to convene the SOCAP community throughout the year in multiple locations. Our goal is to meet you where you are, dive deep locally, and build stronger regional alliances to support the continued growth of impact investing – both as a value-driven methodology and a strong community of practice.

 

SOCAP 365 Events in February and March

Here are immediate opportunities to join us at the first five SOCAP 365 events in 2017:

 
Additional events will be announced on a rolling basis; update your location here to receive invitations throughout the year to events happening near you.

In these changing times, we must gather. We must stay connected, remain committed to the work at hand, and remember the power we have to build strong alliances and global movements together.