Catalytic capital: the big picture


Peter Cafferkey


At EVPA’s upcoming Brussels Impact Week (sadly now sold out!) we have a powerhouse panel representing 4 continents and over 2,500 investors for impact. On Thursday 1st December, leaders at EVPA, Latimpacto, AVPA and AVPN will convene. The focus? Catalytic Capital.

Building on wider work being undertaken by all, focusing on the role this form of capital is playing. At its core this work looks to map, identify and grow this impact capital across the world. This panel will be a chance to hear the stories from the ground, learn about the future and as the audience feed into the future work.

Supported by the Catalytic Capital Consortium, the topic is timely (very happy to talk exhaustively on this!). However, what really excites me is the truly global nature of both this panel and the wider work it represents.

To be clear when talking of the panel itself, it benefits from not being new. Rather it is the latest iteration in a series that has already landed in Cartagena in March and Bali in July. In 2023 the conversation continues with spotlights in Rio de Janeiro and Singapore.

Apart from unfairly highlighting that to some Brussels may not be the most picturesque venue, this points to an exciting shift. For the first time in the over 15 years I have worked in this sector, it feels like investing for impact experience sharing is happening globally and repeatedly.

To be clear lots of good work has been done by organisations in other sectors to share, alongside efforts in the investing for impact space, but this feels different for me. This time this sharing is being driven by local organisations, welcoming others into their home as equals.

In Brussels the voice of Bogota will be represented, in Rio we can share from Rotterdam, Singapore will host the stories of Sao Paulo and Stockholm. Alliteration aside, what this means is the ability to re-write definitions, approaches and share experiences in a way that has been lacking in the investing for impact community.

This matters. Power imbalances will always exist in our current system, money flows define behaviours. Flying visits, definitions created in academia, one off events, example sharing and case studies are all well-meant and valuable. However resources have tended to mean interactions being one way. Alongside being inherently unfair and likely to continue existing imbalances, this is also a missed opportunity.

When approaching Catalytic Capital to only hear the voice of our European investors for impact would be only half the story. Practically in this work so far, over 40 organisations joined EVPA’s focus group gatherings in September, their outputs already shared with teams in Asia and Latin America. 37 interviews in Asia held in the summer are already feeding into European learning and African case studies. This joint and equal sharing is crucial to gaining joint definitions, action, and growth. Selfishly, it is also fun and a privilege to be involved with!

Our global focus as a team is to raise awareness, understand current adoption and barriers in order to unlock more ‘catalytic’ capital.  In 2023 in Europe alone we are planning open consultations, pilots, publications and outreach beyond the impact community. The exciting thing is this can be influenced by thoughts from Asia, be future proofed by output from Africa or expanded by the Latin America experience.

Not just ensuring wider representation, but also building our confidence and knowledge. Giving us as a community the ability to engage with those actors we need to influence as a unified global voice. That feels both exciting and a little daunting – but very necessary.

I am excited by the new ways of working, by the emergence of colleagues and networks across the globe. The panel on the 1st is a practical example for me.  But just a start and one to build on. All these global networks and platforms work for you, their members and supporters, actors on the ground mobilising capital for change. If you want to join us on our Catalytic Capital journey or other aspects, reach out and get involved.

Meanwhile I will be in Brussels in December no way imagining myself in Rio….

Peter Cafferkey is Founder & CEO at Boncerto and Representative for the UK & Ireland at EVPA

Tagged in: EVPA Impact Week 2022

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