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Bridging Knowledge Gaps in Social Capital Markets

Ajaita Shah June 29, 2011

The social capital space is changing for the positive in many ways, especially because of forums like SOCAP which bring hundreds of thinkers and doers together to understand trends, nuances, opportunities, and challenges within this space. As a social entrepreneur, it was and is the best way to meet anyone and everyone in this space.
SOCAP reminded us that networking, and ideas exchanges are essential to increase our momentum to make things happen. So, how do we keep this momentum alive? How can we take lessons learned from each other and move forward? How can we link capital with action? Let’s create more exchanges, let’s fill knowledge gaps, and let’s keep making things happen.
Global Entrepreneur’s Exchange
Social entrepreneurs are increasing in numbers by the day; each day a passionate person decides to take a chance and create a business/plan/company/organization to make a difference in the world. SOCAP brought these people together, and we started talking. There were many entrepreneurs that attended the conference, and when we started exchanging ideas, we realized that we have many things to learn from each other. How do we keep this momentum going? How do we start sharing lessons from the field and improve our companies, our ability to create more impact.
An example of successful exchange: manufacturing companies are still facing the challenge of scale and market entry – European and US companies are trying to understand what product, where, and when – for market entry in developing countries. Our business is a supply chain company that seeks manufacturing partners to introduce new products to developing markets. We have a clear connection, clear need, clear opportunity to exchange information, missions, and make things happen.

I am working with Leanne Pittsford of Start-Somewhere to create this online platform to continue exchanges of ideas. This platform will be facilitated by executives from the field who will introduce topics that concern entrepreneurs; including investment challenges, specific operational challenges, strategic opportunities, successes, and more. This platform will allow entrepreneurs to interact with each other and network with folks who can assist them in their mission to make an impact.
Entrepreneur-Investor Exchange
Investors are beginning to move in the right direction to balance social and commercial interests, BUT still have a lot, A LOT more to learn – about the market, the challenges, the risk, the opportunities, and most importantly, the companies involved in this space. How do we start connecting investors to the market better? We are now starting to think about meeting banks, wealth managers, investors (social and non), to discuss this market further. How can we ensure better follow-ups from conferences to ensure investors and entrepreneurs connect and understand needs, demands, better? How can we have more organized sessions of practitioners meeting investors and explaining the market to them.
The World Bank Group’s Developing World Markets is a good example of this – they have been working with entrepreneurs to better understand their needs, and assist them in initial funding to create results to attract investors. This group, and people like Niki Armacost, of Arc Finance, can create a bridge for entrepreneurs and investors. They are preparing the entrepreneur for investors, and helping investors understand opportunities in their sectors of interest.
We would like to see investors use their capital for impact investment – impacting the entrepreneur – and helping in the scale, execution, and success of a company that creates both financial and social returns. Who can facilitate this? There are a few people in this sector really thinking about this in great detail; including Kevin Jones and Amy Benziger from SOCAP. SOCAP can play a major role in bridging this knowledge gap, helping the right investors meet the right entrepreneurs, and create or scale a successful company.
As a social entrepreneur, I have been thinking about these exchanges and now will be working with colleagues to create it. It is time to bring practitioners from the field to help other key players understand the markets more. We would like to understand the knowledge gap, and think of ways to bridge this divide. All thoughts and comments welcomed by emailing me at [email protected].
 

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