A Money + Meaning Podcast with Matthew Bishop, Andia Chakava, Morgan Simon, and María Carolina Suarez Visbal
On the final day of SOCAP23, three Content Curation Council members gathered to discuss highlights and insights from the event and take a look at what’s ahead. Matthew Bishop, Senior Fellow at Sorenson Impact Institute, moderated the discussion with social impact leaders Andia Chakava of Afrishela, Morgan Simon of Candide Group, and María Carolina Suarez Visbal of Latimpacto.
A new episode of Money + Meaning features their conversation recorded live at SOCAP23, held Oct. 23-25 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. As Content Curation Council members, the three helped select and shape sessions and speakers under the event’s overarching theme, Facing Urgency: Impact at the Speed of Trust.
For 16 years, SOCAP has served as a gathering for the impact ecosystem — bringing together funders and founders plus people from philanthropy, creatives, nonprofits, community leaders, and others. As a longtime attendee, Simon said the event’s strength lies in its cross-sector design that drives connection and innovation. “What’s great about SOCAP, in general, is the opportunity to come together as a community and discuss some of the contemporary, actionable issues that we need to address as a sector that’s looking at ways of not only doing business differently but the way that creates systems change across society,” Simon said.
This year, she said, that includes emerging legal challenges to race-based criteria for grantmaking by organizations including the Fearless Fund and Hello Alice. These challenges target underlying principles of impact investing and grantmaking that aim to address racial funding gaps, Simon said. The lawsuits, she said, are just the “tip of the iceberg,” making it important to have a coordinated approach to address them.
“This sort of backlash is part of the progress that we’re making in putting racial justice onto the agenda for grantmakers and investors alike,” she said. “This is the opportunity that we have to really double down on that support to make sure we continue to fund investors of color and entrepreneurs of color.”
Broadening access to capital is also the aim of Chakava’s work at Afrishela, a Kenya-based fund that invests with a gender lens. This year was her first time attending SOCAP in person, and she said the experience provided an opportunity to learn about other people and organizations working on similar issues. “Being here has made me feel less isolated about some of the challenges that we’re working on,” said Chakava, whose work aims to help others see how gender intersects with global areas of focus for the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including climate change, health care, food systems, and agriculture.
“If you just focus on gender equality, you can hit so many other Sustainable Development Goals,” she said. “But it has to be deliberate, and it has to be working from a community construct and recognizing that women are also very vocal and comfortable when they’re operating within networks and groups.”
Seeking connections and sharing knowledge — whether through networks, groups, or other collaborations — is a crucial part of Suarez Visbal’s work with Latimpacto. SOCAP23 reinforced the value of coming together to share, listen, and learn, she said. “It has been amazing to see how we can share the same challenges globally,” Suarez Visbal said. “Right now, the challenges that we are living, we cannot split them.”
At SOCAP23, she saw a willingness to pull lessons from all regions of the world to drive action and make better use of capital to create impact. Coming together as the SOCAP community means seeing “how we can work as citizens of the world,” she said. “How we can move forward and how we can deal with these challenges.”
It’s vital to continue and build from the conversations that begin at SOCAP23, Suarez Visbal said. “How we can multiply these voices, how we can share with others that have the opportunity to attend these amazing forums, and how we can share with this community that is eager to learn?” she said.
Listen to the full Money + Meaning podcast for more about actionable takeaways from SOCAP23 and reasons to join the community at SOCAP24!
Money + Meaning is the official podcast of SOCAP. The series aims to expand the conversation around impact investing and strategies to finance and support social change while stimulating innovative and valuable new partnerships across sectors.