Highlights from Day One at SOCAP22
“This is the face on the screen who is doing all the work!”
“I can’t believe I’ve worked with you for two years and we’re just now meeting!”
“I feel like you should have a square around your face!”
The excitement was palpable as many of us physically met each other for the first time, or the first time in a long time, as we gathered for the opening day of SOCAP22. The SOCAP community has not gathered in person for three years, and the first day of SOCAP22 was a celebratory day as people connected anew — eagerly engaging and starting up conversations. It was also thoughtful, as voiced by Kerri Folmer of Deloitte: “Many of us are reflecting this week on how things have changed since the last time we gathered at SOCAP in 2019.”
We have more than 2,000 people from 35-plus countries joining together at SOCAP22. We feel such gratitude for the openness and enthusiasm of everyone attending to bring their full selves and experiences to the event. This community is as grounding as ever, with its authenticity and commitment to challenging questions and conversations. We agree with the calls made by stage weaver Alexis Bunten of Bioneers: “Stay broad-minded, connect, remain present. … Connection is what heals us.”
As we take the conversations from the opening day of SOCAP22 and prepare for our second day together, we want to highlight that working together is the only way we will succeed in Make Justice Normal’s Cari Hanson’s call to “Action. Action. Action.” And, if you hesitate to try a new idea, remember the words of Aria Florant of Liberation Ventures: “If I don’t try then it won’t happen; but if I do try, it might.”
Notable Highlights from Day One
Is ESG Worth Saving? We opened the event with an Oxford-style debate on ESG, featuring six speakers who expressed arguments based on their assigned pro or con debate position (not necessarily reflecting their professional or personal opinions). Moderated by Matthew Bishop, Sorenson Impact Center Senior Fellow: “We are going to explore the question of whether ESG is a first step in the right direction — whether that step has really taken us very far or if we should be taking other steps instead to get us further much faster.” The debate opened with Ryan Brennan of Advantage Capital as one against, saying “ESG the term should go away. Be gone.” On the other side, we heard from three who want to save ESG, including Shu Dar Yao of Lucid Capitalism, “The term ESG is the big tent that we’ve been fighting for decades.” The ESG debate extended beyond the opening plenary into multiple sessions: Can it be decolonized? Will it move us closer to justice? And can it move us fast enough toward effective systems change? As summarized by content guide Alexis Bunten, “Is ESG worth saving? For now, ESG is a great way to quickly determine what to invest in. What does that tell us about folks working so hard that they can’t take the time to really get to know what’s happening in the businesses and communities they are investing in?”
Centering stakeholders. We can feel the energy building as people create and center community and each other in new ways during this first day of SOCAP22. Introductions, conversations, and card exchanges to stay in contact long after this week happened everywhere: in the lunch buffet line, at garden picnic tables, while folks waited for a session to start, after a powerful breakout workshop. And it was ever-present on stage, where speakers shared the idea that creating new programs, developing blended finance mechanisms, and crossing the private-public line must recognize the needs of the people and places we are trying to positively impact to be successful. Who is weighted most with the burden of risk? How are risk calculations biased? Who are you building relationships with to know if your intended impact is your true impact? As shared by advisor Clara Miller, “Who are your beneficiaries? The people who you are serving through your mission — you need to be looking at their interests.” And in the words of Illumen Capital’s Joanne Kuang, “Capital must be culturally competent.”
Dig deeper and take action with +Media Impact Hub. SOCAP has partnered with +Media Solutions, an all-female public benefit corporation that engineers positive impact audience engagement. We’ve selected a handful of sessions across the SOCAP22 themes, and have attached additional engagement opportunities to those sessions. On this +Media Impact Hub, you’ll find inspiring opportunities to dive more deeply into solutions related to this year’s themes. Here’s the selection targeted for Monday’s content.
On-demand podcast session available. Biases that limit investors and support organizations are often reinforced by a lack of market visibility. One unexploited solution involves using systems data to boost the visibility of the relationships that small and growing businesses have in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in which they operate. Tune in to this pre-recorded podcast episode, “What Is Systems Data? And Why Investors Need It in Emerging Markets,” featuring Jason Eaves, Discovered Markets; Adesuwa Rhodes, Aruwa Capital Management; and Pratap Raju, Climate Collective Foundation.
Follow along with our live updates and continue to take action and build community with SOCAP Global. You can find us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. If you’re sharing about your experiences at SOCAP, be sure to tag us and use the hashtag #SOCAP22! Some of what we heard today at SOCAP22:
- “One big danger represented by ESG is that it is allowing private interest to set the conversation and obviate the public policymakers from going as deep as they should. … Markets are human constructions, and you can change what you need to get the outcomes you want.” Jeffrey Cyr, Raven Indigenous Capital Partners | Is ESG Worth Saving? Debate (Note: speakers were assigned a pro or con position.)
- “We bring in community perspectives in all that we do. We partner with communities to find the mutual benefit with individual and community partners that is inclusive, equitable, and making change that matters. We try to get to the real heart of what do communities need.” Olabayo Allen-Taylor, Impact Experience | Centering Community Perspective and Narratives: An Approach to Inclusive Capital and Long-Term DEI
- “No money is enough, but money makes the apology real. … Shame holds us back from repair. “ Alexis Bunten, Bioneers | Closing remarks following Reimagining Reparations: Building a Culture of Repair
- “It should be obvious that social impact at corporations should be tied to the business model. It needs to be tied to core business perspectives.” Daniel Barker, Halcyon House | Making the Future of Business Impact Driven
- “There are people in workforce development who are predatory; they are paid to get people in the door and not rated based on outcomes. There are ways to verify outcomes alignment, where people have a proven commitment to students to set them up for success.” Tara Colton, New Jersey Economic Development Authority | Paying It Forward: A Regional Approach to Financing Economic Mobility
Meet Some of Our Partners
As we gather again in person, we’re especially grateful for the mission-driven partners who have helped to make SOCAP22 a reality — and for you and others in the SOCAP community bringing energy and ideas to fuel conversations and drive positive action. Meet some of our partners below:
Jobs for the Future (JFF )brings meaningful and lasting system-level change that push the boundaries and create economic opportunities for all. We are excited to have JFF at SOCAP22, where they will bring their work and launch their initiatives, raising awareness and uplifting mission-driven and aligned messaging to create prosperity and opportunity amongst the most vulnerable communities.
We are so excited to have Prudential at SOCAP22. We are thrilled to have Prudential leading conversations on how to use power and capital in unconventional ways, shaping the dialogue on impact investing. SOCAP is honored to have institutional partners such as Prudential who are deploying over $1 billion in capital to social enterprises, financial intermediaries and real assets in the areas of financial inclusion, education, affordable housing, and transformative infrastructure.
Cartier Women’s Initiative (CWI) invests in female leaders, creating opportunities and providing access to capital for ideas that are shaping the future. We are thrilled to have CWI at SOCAP22, and are excited for this partnership as SOCAP grows our entrepreneur program and welcomes cohorts such as CWI doing such impactful work around the world. The missions of CWI and SOCAP could not be more aligned.