August 30, 2009

Why I’m going to SoCap09

Filed under: life..., projects, social finance — benmetz @ 4:03 am

There seem to be an increasing number of reasons why I am in San Francisco for SoCap09.  Obviously meeting up with friends, old and new, as well as sampling the range of culinary delights the city has to offer both rank highly but I keep having to remind myself of why it is I am here.

Over the last couple of months I’ve been working with a leading emerging markets private equity fund, to assist them in establishing a new charitable trust.  The conversation with them has been rich and broad ranging and it looks like I’m succeeding in getting them to back a highly engaged approach rather than simply making grants and throwing the occasional pro-bono bone to beneficiaries.  If they take what I am proposing forward we’ll be seeing a new organisation something akin to a hybrid between the Monitor Institute and CIFF creating and engaging with initiatives to develop market based solutions to poverty alleviation and sustainable development at the base of the pyramid.  So right at the top of my agenda at SoCap09 is to connect with individuals and organisations at the interface between corporate finance and these market based solutions…  Conversations might be focused on learning and exchanging experience, potential collaborations or even syndicating across investments and initiatives and sharing back office costs…

As it’s increasingly likely I’ll be freelancing in the social finance space, in some capacity, in the months to come I’m also here to network, to find like minded folk worthy of collaborating with and to adopt a sponge like absorptive capacity regarding new developments across the sector.

Another reason for being here is to build on my understanding of the barriers to social finance deployment and social economy development the world over.  Research for the above mentioned private equity firm is exposing a similar set of barriers globally – missing middle finance, lack of management capacity, certain legislative and regulatory barriers – and I’m interested in how we could coordinate a global response to aid the endeavours of the many good folk trying to break them down.  In this regard the UK has a phenomenal wealth of experience of how to do things well and how to make a complete mess of things and I’m pushing for a UK lead in establishing this kind of global resource.  Perhaps further collation of evidence identifying these barriers the world over might help shift come of the complacency and introspection back home…?  We shall see…..

Oh yes – and did I mention the food here is pretty good?!?!?


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