SOCAP 2016: A New Chapter

Social Capital Markets (SOCAP) is a conference series dedicated to exploring, innovating and collaborating around the ideas and solutions that can increase the flow of capital toward social good. The annual flagship event concluded last week at the historic Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, CA.

SOCAP has played a special role within the Impact Investing field since the first conference in 2008. It has continued to draw crowds of impact investors, social enterprises, field-builders and thought-leaders to discuss the latest and greatest in Impact Investing.

In recent years, particularly as the Impact Investing movement has gained serious traction, the need for SOCAP to expand beyond “the choir” to include major investors—inclusive of asset managers and owners—has never been more important. Similarly, the need to shift conversations from Impact Investing being an “emerging field” to a “growing industry” has been much needed.

We observed that shift this year, and were happy to be a part of it.

Members of the Case Foundation team travelled to SOCAP last week to engage in a global conversation around money and meaning. We left with a renewed sense of inspiration, as well as fresh ideas for collaboration. Here are a few of our key takeaways from the week:

1. We’re no longer discussing the “emerging field” of Impact Investing. It has emerged.

Since the Impact Investing field was first formalized, much of the conference has focused around persuading broad audiences to embrace it. For the impact community, it has been particularly challenging to bring along mainstream investors to explore another tool in their investment toolbox.

This year, however, numerous individuals in the opening plenaries, panels, sessions and breakouts had a different message. No longer were experts advocating for the importance of Impact Investing, but rather that Impact Investing is already here. In a time of finite resources, heightened importance around business sustainability, need for holistic risk assessment and demand for matching capital with individual values, the question of whether Impact Investing is real has been answered.

Instead, there was an intentional pivot to “how?” How do we make Impact Investing tools broadly accessible to diverse markets and audiences? How do we equip wealth advisors, CIOs and institutional investors with the knowledge, training and resources they need to explore the integration of Impact Investing into their product suite? How do fiduciaries continue to meet stringent expectations around their financial duty, while also responsibly integrating impact? The signaling here is critical, and we were pleased to see the thoughtful and creative conversations around how to address these questions.

To dig deeper, check out a recap of our session on Thursday about leveraging the advisor community as a gateway to Impact Investing.

2. Levelling the entrepreneurship playing field is a must.

Just as the rhetoric around Impact Investing has changed in recent years, so has the conversation around entrepreneurship. At SOCAP, a concentrated effort has been made to provide entrepreneurs with a chance to connect, pitch and seek mentorship. But that’s not the only way the conversation has changed; an entire track of the conference this year focused on inclusive entrepreneurship. These sessions tackled important topics of diversity and inclusion across race and gender within entrepreneurship, and brought to light both critical shortcomings and tremendous benefits from access and opportunity for all of our changemakers.

At the Case Foundation, entrepreneurship has always been a big part of how we think about our movement catalyzation efforts. For nearly 20 years, we’ve continued to believe in entrepreneurship as a driving force behind growth, development—and importantly—inclusion. To that end, SOCAP was an opportunity to give a sneak peek of our #FacesofFounders campaign with a photo and storytelling booth at the Festival Pavilion. In partnership with the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, the Case Foundation’s #FacesofFounders campaign will shine a spotlight on the millions of diverse entrepreneurs in America, and reinforce the importance of an inclusive approach to entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs and supporters of entrepreneurs were invited to take free headshots, share their stories, showcase their varied backgrounds and share their journeys of learning and success.

SOCAP Photo Booth

Check out a recording of Senior Vice President Sheila Herrling’s lively panel, Am I an Entrepreneur?, with changemakers Monique Woodard, Tony Tolentino and Kelechi Anyadiegwu.

3. Transparency is essential.

In the Impact Investing space, metrics, measurement and the data that supports these activities have observed a transformation in both necessity and importance. Often considered a cumbersome demand of early Impact Investing activity, measurement, tracking and transparency are essential in getting the field to scale.

During SOCAP, we co-hosted a standing room only session on open data for social good with ImpactSpace and SODA. Investors, entrepreneurs and field-builders crowded in to watch rapid-fire presentations from data-powered platform creators, who have all committed to innovate around the way we gather and share data. This is indicative of a growing community of data experts and stakeholders looking to advance the practice of effective collaboration through powerful, user-friendly tools.

Network Map Body

At the Case Foundation, our movement building efforts have included collaborative partnerships to sophisticate and streamline data accessibility, including impact measurement, investment reporting and research. Our work on the Impact Investing Network Map is one such way we’re hoping to bring in investors and organizations looking to engage in the space. Primarily, the Map will allow a visual overlay of transaction-led relationships across the Impact Investing industry and enable users to filter information by asset class, geography, and impact area. Through a partnership with ImpactSpace, and using data from CrunchBase, we’re hoping to demonstrate just where the relationships exist, tangibly bust through the myth that the field is still nascent, and work together to change how we talk about data.

Want to check out more on the Impact Investing Network Map? Sign up to be an early tester and submit your data directly to the platform!

We were thrilled to see our movement areas—Impact Investing and Inclusive Entrepreneurship—collide at SOCAP, and witness the momentum building around each of them. We look forward to continuing to forge strong partnerships in these areas, to build on these movements and reach tipping point.

Nine Sessions to Catch at SOCAP 2016

As we say goodbye to summer and hello to September, for many of us working in the social impact field that means getting ready for one of the sectors’ biggest events—Social Capital Markets, or SOCAP. This year the Case Foundation team is looking forward to engaging with our partners along with a growing network of impact focused investors, entrepreneurs, consumers and professionals at SOCAP.

SOCAP started in 2008 with a small group of investors who were determined to make their money work, not only for financial returns but also for social benefit; it is now one of the largest annual conferences for impact investors and social entrepreneurs globally. When we at the Case Foundation launch something new, we like to give a sneak-peek to great audiences, and the counsel from SOCAP changemakers makes it a perfect conference to work on enhancing the potential impact of our work.

That’s why at this year’s SOCAP, which takes place from September 13 – 16 in San Francisco, CA, we’re thrilled that the two movements we’re driving—impact investing and inclusive entrepreneurship—will be front and center. We can’t wait to share a few of our ideas and take the opportunity to learn from other incredible innovators at SOCAP. Here are just a few of next week’s standout sessions and programs; we hope to see you there!

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14

9:00 AM – 6:00 PM – Faces of Founders Story Booth
It’s time to level the playing field when it comes to entrepreneurship for women and communities of color. It’s time to change the narrative and bust myths of what an entrepreneur does and doesn’t look like. Stop by the Festival Pavilion at booth 104 on Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, and join the Case Foundation and Blackstone Charitable Foundation to take your free headshot and learn more about the upcoming Faces of Founders campaign. Come show the diverse backgrounds and approaches of entrepreneurs today and share your best advice on how to make this campaign a huge success.

10:45 AM – Accelerator Effectiveness in Developing Countries
Around the globe, entrepreneurs are turning to accelerator programs for support to grow their businesses, so how do we know if they’re effective or not? Ross Baird, Executive Director at Village Capital and other ecosystem innovators will lead small group discussions about the programmatic and environmental elements that determine an accelerator’s outcomes. Make your way to BATS! Annex at 10:45 AM to be a part of the conversation.

10:45 AM – Impact Unicorns: Can We Have Our Cake and Eat it Too?
A group of true impact investing powerhouses will take part in a panel at Cowell Theater at 10:45 AM to cover one of the biggest questions in impact investing: Can investors have their cake (financial returns) and eat it, too (impact returns)? The panel will feature the funds and firms—Elevar Equity, MicroVest, DBL Partners, Core Innovation Capital and ImpactAssets—that do just that, the so-called “Impact Unicorns.”

12:00 PM – Mapping the Impact Investing Landscape with Collaborative Data – Demos
Interested in the growing applicability and necessity of open data and collaboration in the impact investing and social good market? Be sure to join the Case Foundation’s SVP of Social Innovation, Sheila Herrling who will be co-hosting a conversation on open data for social good with ImpactSpace and SODA (Social Data Commons) at 12:00 PM in Firehouse. The session will feature rapid-fire presentations from innovative data-powered platform creators and hands-on demos in a collaborative environment. Stop by to try out the tools for yourself and get a preview of our soon-to-launch impact investing ecosystem map.

1:15 PM – Collaborative Data for Social Good – Just Do It!
Make sure you stick around for the collaboration workshop directly following the Mapping the Landscape session, which will be led by the great minds behind SODA in Firehouse at 1:15 PM. This workshop is for all who are serious about working together to build the connective infrastructure needed to create a more connected and efficient infrastructure.

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 15

9:00 AM – 6:00 PM – Faces of Founders Story Booth
If you couldn’t make it out on Wednesday for your photo, be sure to stop by on Thursday!

11:00 AM – Impactful Matchmaking: How Investment Advisors First Talk Impact with Clients
The early interactions between investors and their advisors are critical—particularly given that many more people express interest in impact investing than actually move to action. The Case Foundation’s VP of Social Innovation, Rehana Nathoo will join a panel of impact investment leaders and trendsetters from Tideline, ImpactAssets, The CAPROCK Group, Morgan Stanley and Cambridge Associates to discuss how advisors and their clients can talk about impact investing, and what we need to get to scale, at 11:00 AM in Cowell Theater.

4:00 PM – Am I an Entrepreneur? Challenging the Stereotypes
How can the stories we tell and the words we use to tell them help to level the playing field for all entrepreneurs to grow and scale their businesses? Hear from Sheila Herrling, SVP of Social Innovation from the Case Foundation, Blackstone Charitable Foundation, 500 Startups and Zuvaa African Fashion at the Festival Mainstage at 4:00 PM, on what challenges and opportunities diverse entrepreneurs face when building their brands and successful companies.

4:00 PM – Measure What Matters: Unveiling the New B Impact Assessment Tool
If you’re curious about a tool that is helping to direct investment into the companies that are creating high quality jobs, strengthening communities and preserving the environment, then you may want to check out this session in C230 at 4:00 PM, hosted by the nonprofit B Lab. Case Foundation Program Officer, Sean Tennerson will join a panel of investors that are using or developing strategies to use the B Impact Assessment, which just got a big overhaul.

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16

11:00 AM – Best of Cities: How to Teach All Businesses in Your City about Impact
Is it possible to have every business in a city learn how to solve locally entrenched issues? Yes! Stop by BATS! Theater at 11:00 AM to hear how B Lab and New York City started a citywide program to teach all businesses—not just those that drink their Kool Aid—how to create high quality jobs, strengthen communities and preserve the environment.

 
We are excited to collaborate with innovators working toward new solutions within both of our movements and we look forward to seeing you at #SOCAP16.