Announcements and Insights from Cheryl Dorsey’s Speech at SOCAP15
“Is the pioneer gap an impassable gulch?” Echoing Green President Cheryl L. Dorsey considered this question during the opening plenary at SOCAP15. Dorsey pointed out that, despite extensive research into the pioneer gap phenomenon and growing awareness of the insufficient levels of available seed stage financing for social entrepreneurs, “the most promising early stage ventures still face crippling hurdles in accessing capital.” Echoing Green is still hearing from too many social entrepreneurs that they lack access to early stage capital, in large part because of, “systemic, structural market problems.” In her speech, Dorsey outlined some of the ways that her organization is working to build out pipelines and create solutions to help pioneering social entrepreneurs achieve greater scale.
Watch Cheryl Dorsey’s Plenary Appearance
New Research from Echoing Green and USAID
Dorsey announced that Echoing Green recently undertook an in-depth look at some of the data they have been collecting from their Fellowship applicant pool to codify and analyze what they have been hearing from social entrepreneurs. Dorsey announced that, in order to “better inform the field” and support a more robust social enterprise ecosystem, Echoing Green, in partnership with USAID, is now offering the white paper Deviation from the Standard: Funding and Supporting Emerging Social Entrepreneurs. The paper is part of Echoing Green’s impact investing program.
Dorsey went on to state in her SOCAP speech that, in addition to ongoing research, Echoing Green intends to take other approaches as well, including working with other funders to provide blended capital and convening social entrepreneurs and investors to encourage rich conversations that will hopefully lead to actionable solutions.
Echoing Green’s Rich Data Source
The data from the Deviation from the Standard study is drawn from a substantial pool of social entrepreneurs. Echoing Green receives over 3000 fellowship proposals from over 150 countries around the world annually. As a result they have collected literally thousands of data points about early stage social enterprise. This data is already revealing some interesting insights about trends. During their talk Dorsey noted that, “starting in 2006, we started to see about 15% of our applicant pool proposing for-profit or hybrid social enterprises and that number has only continued to grow. About 40-50% of our applicant pool is now comprised of those proposing for-profits or hybrids.”
Insights into the Current and Future Role of Echoing Green
Echoing Green intends to help those in the impact space develop networks of relationships that will bring about “positive developments, disruptive innovation, and scale.” One way her organization plans to do this is to offer convenings, such as Echoing Green’s 2015 All Fellows Conference, November 2nd through 5th in Johannesburg, South Africa. At this event, almost 200 social entrepreneurs will gather together for, “peer-learning sessions, engagement with local leaders, and industry roundtables.” Dorsey called upon the SOCAP community, and the broader social impact community to “embrace distributed networks” and “communities of practice.”
Dorsey said that Echoing Green is is committed to diving into their data in order to learn how social innovators are creating dynamic distributed networks. At convenings like SOCAP and at the Johannesburg All Fellows Conference, and through white papers like Deviation from the Standard, her organization will continue to share these and other insights in the future.
Read Cheryl Dorsey’s Forbes article Impact Investing: What Do Emerging Social Entrepreneurs Really Need?
And for more information about Echoing Green and the role they are playing in the social capital markets, read SOCAP Conversations: Echoing Green President Cheryl Dorsey and Entrepreneur Michael Wilkerson.