THE INTERSECTION OF MONEY AND MEANING
By Linh Le, MBA Candidate 2019
I was fortunate to have been sponsored by the Graduate Affinity Conference Sponsorship and was able to attend the Social Capital Market (SOCAP) conference. “SOCAP is the world’s leading conference activating the capital markets to drive positive social and environmental impact – convening the marketplace at the intersection of money and meaning.” Over 3,300 impact investors, social entrepreneurs, philanthropists, business leaders, and change makers …from over 70 countries came together for a 4-day conference at SOCAP18.
Coming from a venture capitalist background and have a strong passion in making a social and environmental impact, I had always wanted to attend SOCAP conference to meet impact investors around the world and thanks to Babson, my dream finally came true.
Here are some of my keys take away from the Conference:
- Many Corporates Venture Capitals now see impact investing as a way to make a significant and sustainable impact. In case you don’t know what Corporates Venture Capital is, “Corporate venture capital (CVC) is a subset of venture capital wherein corporations make systematic investments into startup companies, often by taking an equity stake in an innovative firm tangentially related to the company’s own industry.” (Investopedia). SOCAP brought CVCs of Orange, Salesforce, Autodesk Foundation, GE Business Innovations… to panel to share their experience. They shared the same thought that impact investments can benefit not only a corporation’s bottom line but also their customers and their community.
- There is a growing community of investors steer capital to female-led companies. Besides many panel discussions about gender lens investing, it was great to see such a number of impact investors, community builders, foundations, and businesses came to Gender Lens Investing Champions Breakfasts to share their experience on investing through a gender lens. Investors believe that it’s a smart move to invest in female-led businesses, not only it can promote the advancement of women and promote equity but also help investors to spot overlooked opportunities, which eventually bring big returns on investment. Likewise, supporting female entrepreneurs is the key to reducing poverty in many developing countries and regions, including Sub-Saharan Africa.
- Fintech for financial inclusion is still a hot topic. Fintech has attracted a lot of attention and a huge amount of funding recently and inclusive fintech was also mentioned as of the key to eradicate poverty. The Inclusive Fintech Happy Hour organized by Catalyst Fund, Accion, and Quona Capital at SOCAP attracted over a hundred people who were interested in using fintech as a force for good. Big corporations also joined the movement such as VISA with Visa Foundation.
- We need more international collaboration to make a significant impact. At SOCAP, I met many investors, foundations, and community builders who are actively seeking for investment-ready social enterprises in emerging countries or opportunities to expand their programs to make a bigger impact in developing countries like Acumen, Grand Challenge Canada. These organizations are super open to collaborating with local community builders in developing countries and believe the best way to go far is to go together.
The most valuable thing I got out of SOCAP was not the panel discussions itself but the people I met. It was so easy to bump into a partner of a renowned impact fund, an accomplished social entrepreneur, or a foundation with funding over $100M at SOCAP. By investing time in finding the right people to talk with and setting up meetings with them in advanced, I had many fruitful conversations. The SOCAP community were incredibly supportive and always willing to help. I walked away with tons of knowledge and many potential partnership opportunities for Seed Planter – the entrepreneurship institute for impact entrepreneurs in Vietnam that I’m building. Attending SOCAP and being a part of this growing community at the intersection of money and meaning gave me a lot of inspiration and strengthen my motivation to make a bigger impact in the society.