Capital is fuel for changing the world in the social capital market. Do-gooders often upon capitalism with horror as a wild force of nature. But capital is not untameable: it is a tool that we created, and that can be put back under our control. To paraphrase the proverb: the past decade has shown us that those who seek money without meaning are dangerous, but those who seek meaning without capital are limited in their ability to scale.
The social capital market, at at the intersection of money and meaning, seeks both. And that’s where the juice is.
The social capital market looks at value across asset classes and we are finding that impact lives in the commons, not on the balance sheet or even in our impact metrics, which are both only single inputs into a much more complex system. In words that Jed Emerson said a long time ago, what we want is value; and we are willing to pay for, or invest in, or give to, things that provide value. We define value through both relational and financial lenses.
In this way, the social capital market is a cognitive landscape, including both what you care about and whether or not you are making money through your work. People historically have thought of giving from one pocket to do good, and investing into another to make money, but this space partakes of elements of both. In this market, our individual and collective assets are both on the balance sheet and in the commons, weighing what’s good for the investor and what’s good for all of us and our planet.
Because of this creative tension, people need to be at the core of this movement. Money is a fuel for a movement that operates within planetary boundaries; a market where grandchildren can have a voice.
The traditional capital markets rely on the big investor dollars, from J.P. Morgan to Warren Buffett. Capital in the social capital market is much more democratic. In this space, the power of money alone, of investor dollars, is growing smaller. The greater scarcity is among those entrepreneurs who can build something beyond themselves. The social enterprise movement began with a hero phase – and to be sure the starter has a vital role. But it’s time to get past the hero. These are the days of the ones who make the dream a reality, who follow the visionary to build something bigger than she could imagine.