Five reflections from Impact Minds 


Allie Hollowell


I recently heard someone call this Fall; “Conference Season”. And while I had to chuckle, it was a pretty accurate description of the next three months for the impact sector!

With many convenings coming back for the first time after a long pandemic-induced hiatus, it does seem hard to pick between the many global and regional events – all focusing on getting us back on track for the 2030 agenda and racing towards Net Zero. 

While I love a good conference and have spent the last seven years of my career building ecosystems that thrive on the power of networks, even I can get a bit jaded on my way to “yet another conference”. I think that is why Latimpacto’s Impact Minds Conference in Rio late last month has stuck with me for three weeks now. It was a refreshingly different and truly energizing experience that I am glad that I was able to prioritise attending. 

Now, I should mention that I am a bit biased…Latimpacto is one of the four sister networks that together make up the Global Alliance of Impact Networks, a collaborative effort which I lead. But, in full recognition of my bias, I am incredibly proud of what Latimpacto put together in only their 2nd edition of Impact Minds and I was inspired to pen down some reflections that have crystallized for me in the weeks since returning from Rio. 

  1. Similar to Latimpacto’s inaugural conference, the site visits and the vibrant cultural elements that were integrated throughout the conference were some of my favourite moments. Working to support funders, I rarely get to engage so directly with impact organizations and Latimpacto’s attention to this emphasized the power of storytelling and going beyond the data to connect with the communities we ultimately are here to serve.
  2. It was exciting to learn more about the innovative solutions coming out of Latin America that are addressing climate change. Sinal do Vale, for example, one of the site visits in Rio, is a great model of land stewardship and how organizations can share solutions that regenerate forests, soils, and food systems that can be replicated and scaled throughout the region. The Catalytic Green Fund that Latimpacto launched in partnership with IDB Lab and Coca-Cola is a much-needed vehicle to kick start a just transition that prioritizes decarbonization in the Amazon while supporting quality jobs and gender equality. I will be following this closely!
  3. In a country with deep-rooted inequality, it was a big focus of Latimpacto to include conversations about diversity and inclusivity and ensure the faces on stage were representative of that diversity. The efforts on this did not go unnoticed and I heard many calling for this dialogue to continue beyond the walls of the conference. The trauma of slavery is still very evident in Brazil and it is our responsibility to ensure the voices of Black and Indigenous communities continue to be elevated. 
  4. In the opening plenary, I was privileged to join with leaders from across all of our networks, Latimpacto, AVPN, AVPA and EPVA. I was thrilled to see how much the concept of our global connectivity resonated with the group. Especially the idea of sharing South-to-South insights. Naina Batra and Frank Aswani, in particular, had a line of people waiting to speak to them about what learnings Latin America can gain from Asia and Africa. Breaking down barriers between sectors, geographies, forms of capital and languages was a theme throughout, made all the more tangible by the simultaneous translation across three languages offered throughout every session of the conference. Truly impressive!
  5. Finally, what I am taking home for my work at GAIN is the call for more blended finance. At GAIN we are exploring new and better ways to connect the right capital with the right opportunities and I heard loud and clear from my many 1:1 meetings that there is still a need to bridge between philanthropy, impact investing and commercial capital to meet the urgency of this moment. And so, I have my homework…

Allie Hollowell is the Executive Director of the Global Alliance of Impact Networks (GAIN)

Tagged in: ImpactMinds

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