SOCAP 2015 HIGHLIGHTS – See how Capitalism is Serving the World


Pamela Hawley


Walk into the Fort Mason building that has housed SOCAP for nearly 10 years – and you will see the buzz. A mix of people who own socially conscious businesses, invest in them, or want to work for them – has descended!

I’ve seen it from the start, eight years ago. Perhaps 40 people convened in a wall-to-wall carpeted room. The food consisted of coffee and Powerbars from Safeway. Now, we have hundreds lined up for lunch, and our food is powered by all organic, compost-able, wheat-berry-gluten-free-mercury-free-’recycle/renew everything’ menus.

SOCAP is not just an annual event. It’s an ongoing, year long unfoldment of ideas that germinates and molts, renewing for new collaboration, and shooting forth to bloom in brilliance. Read on to see what’s trending globally in impact investing and for-profit social consciousness.

This year UniversalGiving spoke on innovative ways to engage the donor; last year we spoke on Corporate Revenue Streams for Social Entrepreneurs; Full Transparency: True Stories on the Challenges of CEO Leadership. And while SOCAP touts the make money model, make no mistake these are thoughtful people. Our first session included: Can Spirituality Make an Impact in Impact Investing?  View here to see our talk.

I’d like to share some of the progress I’ve seen.  While in the past we’ve had a lot of great ideas, now we are seeing them turn into action

One of the greatest companies I saw was ‘No Prick,’ which serves thousands of people.   It’s essentially a super strong patch that delivers insulin for those with diabetes. It makes needles, infections, and the unpleasant daily shot obsolete. These are ways that business has more of a heart, thinking about the patient’s experience, as well as mitigating other diseases

Kudos to Omidyar and Halloran Foundations who are serving the base of the pyramid. It’s not an easy task, and especially not as attractive when our economy is surging. There are many opportunities to invest in, and these two foundations take on the toughest challenge of reaching not just the poor – but the ‘withouts’ – those who lack income, the ability to work, and access to family resources. It’s really starting from ground zero.

Duke is taking a strong leading in impact investing. The Center for Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) at Duke University and ICAP Partners are now taking action in impact investing, serving investment banks, financial advisors and foundations.   CASE is also investing in more training and education on impact investing for students, and as part of the discussion at the Fuqua Business School.

I found inspiring some inspiring statistics during the conference:

  • Mexico Invests. The Mexican economy surges up and down, consistently wavering. But they are innovating.  Nearly ¾ of people lack labour rights and pension plans. More than 50 per cent cannot buy adequate food. From SOCAP: ‘Out of ten people: 5 live in poverty, 3 are vulnerable, 2 are non-poor neither vulnerable.’ Still, they are starting businesses and impact investing.
  • Women Leaders of early stage enterprises are out performing male-led companies by more than 15 per cent. But women get nearly 40 per cent less financial support. SOCAP idea is floating that women led groups should automatically receive a 10 per cent bonus to even it out. Yet then we are off the value of capitalism and dipping into a socialistic society… a tough challenge for our increasingly heartfelt, wholistic marketplace.
  • Power of Diaspora More than 62 million Americans – a fifth of the nation – are first or second generation diaspora. The number of people living outside their country of origin has almost tripled over the past 45 years. As a result, remittance transfers to home countries reached $534 billion in 2012 alone. While most remittances support families, but also support entrepreneurs.

Pamela Hawley is Founder and CEO of UniversalGiving.

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