Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

Press Highlights from SOCAP16

October 11th, 2016

Over 100 members of the press attended SOCAP16, from all around the world. They came to document this community in action, and to uncover the brightest new ideas and deepest insights from on, and off, the SOCAP stage.


SOCAP is filled with thought leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, and new entrants to the fields of social enterprise and impact investing, and is where many impact organizations share leading news and breakthrough ideas. Each year in San Francisco it is our privilege to convene the most compelling voices and stories from the impact economy, which produces a treasure trove of material for any journalist or blogger interested in the growing marketplace at the intersection of money and meaning.

SOCAP16 is three weeks behind us, and we’re still tallying the results. At the time of this post, SOCAP16 has been mentioned in over 200 articles. And while we don’t have the space to list all of the coverage received, we hope you’ll enjoy some of these press highlights from SOCAP16.

“Social Entrepreneurs Say They Face Tough Hurdles but Making Headway,” via Thomson Reuters Foundation News

“Introducing SOCAP Goes Local #Localize,” via Real Leaders

“The Passion of Impact Investing,” via Huffington Post

“This New Accelerator Is Funding Projects That Fix The Systemic Issues Of Our Cities,” via Fast Company

“Oincs App Connects Citizens Sharing Updates About Potholes, Garbage And Traffic Cops,” via Forbes

“SOCAP16 – Views From a Reformed Conference Cynic,” via LinkedIn Pulse

“SOCAP16: Changing the World Through Impact Investing,” via Huffington Post

“Can Financial Products Improve the Lives of Poor People?” via Fortune

“Revisiting SOCAP-More Momentum and a Higher Bar,” Alliance Magazine

“Success for Women Entrepreneurs in Poor Countries Means Enlisting Men – Activists,” via Thomson Reuters Foundation News

“SOCAP16 and the Continued Evolution of Impact Investing” via Nonprofit Quarterly

“Reaching Your Potential Through Partnerships: Lessons Learned from SOCAP 2016,” via Huffington Post

“SOCAP 2016: A New Chapter,” via Case Foundation  

“SOCAP: Hub of Impact,” via Huffington Post  

“Hippies vs. Capitalists at SOCAP, Data (and Honors) for Social Entrepreneurs and a ‘What’ for WHO,” via Next Billion

“Burn Your Dollar: Taking Impact Investing to Burning Man and Bringing the Playa to SOCAP,” via Impact Alpha

Where The Glass Ceiling Is Already Smashed

September 16th, 2016

A SOCAP Guest Post By Monique Villa


There is a growing sector where women are rising to the top, smashing through the glass ceiling as never before, and transforming the world with big ideas.

It’s called social entrepreneurship and it’s disrupting the traditional status quo, fostering innovation and developing sustainable business ideas to solve the world’s most pressing social problems.

From training rats to detect landmines, to offering micro-lending to Indian farmers, these entrepreneurs see success not just through financial returns, but also in terms of social impact. The ultimate business goal? To set up successful companies that improve the lives of underserved and marginalized communities. It’s not just about the balance sheet, but it’s not charity either.

A Thomson Reuters Foundation poll, conducted in partnership with Deutsche Bank, UnLtd, and the Global Social Entrepreneurship Network (GSEN) shows that women are embracing social entrepreneurship, especially across Asia.

According to our survey, 68 per cent of those polled across the world’s 44 biggest economies said women were well-represented in management roles within the industry. The Philippines ranked first as the country where women were most active in the sector, while Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Thailand took five of the other top ten slots.

Women like Ajaita Shah, who set up an organization that sells and distributes products like solar lamps and smokeless stoves to households in rural India. Here, endemic poverty has kept investors at bay.

With her company, Frontier Markets, Ajaita has reached 40,000 households in Rajasthan, and is on track to provide over 10 million products to 30 million households in India by 2016.

Ajaita is not a charity worker, she is a business woman. As her business grows, the living standards of hundreds of marginalized low-income communities are lifted.


The rise of female social entrepreneurs is also witnessed across the UK. Here, 40 per cent of social enterprises are led by women, compared with just over nine per cent of FTSE 100 companies. In addition, 84 percent of social ventures have at least one woman on the leadership team.

Why are women excelling in this field? Those we surveyed pointed out that social entrepreneurship is a level playing field for women: gender bias has almost disappeared when it comes to using enterprise for social good. Others mentioned compassion, a strong desire to impact people’s lives rather than focusing solely on profit.

Statistics seem to support this argument. One in particular motivated me to ensure women’s rights were core to the Foundation’s work. It was when I heard that women reinvest 90 percent of what they earn back into their families, according to the World Bank. Women build solid networks with their communities and as a result their families are wealthier and healthier. They are the ultimate economic accelerators, so it’s not surprising that the social enterprise model is so appealing to them.

The sector is clearly gaining momentum: 85 per cent of the experts we polled describe growth as fast, and a recent report by JP Morgan and Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) expects social entrepreneurship worldwide to receive a cash injection of almost $18 billion in 2016.

But there’s a big challenge ahead: funders, governments and the general public still see this fast growing sector as charitable work. In the words of one of the experts we polled: ‘just mentioning the word ‘social’ makes investors deaf, dumb and blind’.

It’s clear that this is an incredible loss of potential. At a time when the world faces unprecedented challenges we can only benefit from the courage and the ideas of these change-makers. Just imagine what could be achieved if they were encouraged to tackle global issues such as climate change or the refugee crisis. Now more than ever society at large needs a different point of view; social entrepreneurs might just be our best answer.

Monique Villa is CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation

For the full results of the survey, visit

Investing to End Food Waste

September 16th, 2016

A SOCAP Guest Post By Maura Dilley

Over 200 million dollars are lost to food waste every year. Spoiled, unwanted, imperfect food that businesses pay to grow, package, transport, refrigerate and throw-away uneaten.


American agriculturalists are shifting paradigms from paying to manage waste to saving money eliminating waste such as developing “co-products” and circular products from material that was once fodder landfill.

If over 200 million dollars are lost to food waste, how much money might there be to gain from plugging the leak? Investors are beginning to look into new products lines, technology, supply chain transparency and data analysis to help unlock a brave new food market.  

“Investors need to think about where and how capital can unlock more capital” says Sarah Vared of MissionPoint Partners. This means making strategic, and sometime out-of-industry, moves to clear the path and gain access to big wins for returns and circular food systems.

Wasted food is wasted money. Wasting food also has a devastating impact on communities and the environment. Growers and pickers are exposed to chemical fertilizers and pesticides that also pollutes water for food that isn’t eaten. Uneaten food is transported across the country and world, emitting greenhouse gases along the way. The social and environmental returns of ending food waste are just now being calculated but seem significant.

Herein lies a challenge for investing in an optimal food system. Someone puts the money in and society gets the value back, where can business put money in and get money back? Vared says, “Incentives and credits from government can help out a lot here. There’s also a huge need for a full spectrum approach meaning philanthropic and business capital to come in together and unlock the market.”

Transparency through Technology and Data

Food waste defies common sense: how can America waste so much and still suffer from food insecurity? What do you mean apples cores won’t compost in landfills? Food waste is such a humdinger that John Oliver famously covered it in an episode of Last Week Tonight.


Gaining visibility into where and why food is wasted helps to plan interventions and investments. But the food supply chain is gnarly and we can’t fix what we can’t see.

Platforms that provide transparency and communication between suppliers and buyers will empower as-needed harvesting. Data analytics to better understand market needs and make smarter in decisions will also reduce waste.

Technology that allows for supply chain transparency from procurement to disposal, even in the same company, will also greatly reduce waste. Think: no more unnecessary processing and packaging; no more over-ordering for fear of under-ordering.

The Closed Loop Fund is a corporate 100 million dollar social impact fund powered by companies such as Wal-Mart and dedicated to increasing recycling in products and packaging. Closed Loop thinks about where capital invested in waste reduction can unlock more capital. They’ve discovered that 2/3 of the cost in processing food for recycling (composting) is transporting food to and from processing plants.

Food investors are considering all the different pieces of the system and pain-points to progress, including out-of-industry investments like transportation. Targeting an investment in transportation may unlock economy of scale for food recycling and make a new valuable market.

Seeing, then Increasing Value

Other new markets for waste are co-products and circular products.

Andrew Falcon suggest going with the highest value when redirecting food waste. “Consider food waste from a grocery store, best value is feeding humans, then animals, then composting – which is green but low value, an anaerobic digester – another form of disposal or make a product, like bioplastic”

Falcon’s company Full Cycle Bioplastics captures methane off-gassing from food waste, feeds it to microbes who inturn produce PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoates), a compostable bioplastic made from renewable resources.  Falcon admits, “Bioplastic from waste is somewhat of a pessimistic technology. It’d be better if we had efficient systems and policy that eliminated waste at the source then we can make products from excess waste.”  

To create value from waste you need a product that is more valuable than the waste. Counting the cost of disposal, processing and transportation of food that’s wasted is a great head start on a co-products price point.

A co-product is the highest and best use of a resource that would otherwise be trashed. POM Wonderful, pomegranate juice mongers, uses leftover ingredients from juice as components for co-products like nutritional supplements and cosmetics. Products that start as co-products could rise to meet, or eclipse, the price point value of their parents. Spent grain from breweries can be baked into flour and then into a snack bar. With the proper systems in place, excess produce could become dehydrated produce and jams.

“Waste is a hot potato,” says Falcon, because currently components of waste aren’t linked together. Technology and transparency could enable nodes along the supply chain to talk, negotiate, optimize and eliminate waste.

md_headshotMaura Dilley is a systems-change strategist, writer and designer working at the intersection of ocean health and social enterprise. She is program director at Impact Alpha’s Financing Fish.

SOCAP16 Daily Highlights – Friday

September 16th, 2016


SOCAP16 has been truly inspiring and today’s programming promises to be the culmination of all that has come before. Do not miss out on the capstone event of the conference–the Closing Plenary. Come to the Festival Mainstage between 12:30 PM – 2:00 PM to hear the final speakers of SOCAP16 turn towards the future and talk about how we can begin moving towards a culture of equity and motivating markets in pursuit of social and environmental justice.

  • Marc Bamuthi Joseph,Chief of Program and Pedagogy, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
  • Deborah Cullinan, Chief Executive Officer, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
  • Stephen DeBerry, Founder and Managing Partner, Bronze Investments
  • Penelope Douglas, Director, CultureBank @ YBCA
  • Rodney Foxworth, Founder/CEO, Invested Impact
  • Rha Goddess, Founder, Move the Crowd
  • Keno Sadler, Vice President, Programs, Echoing Green

Workshop: Solutions Salons

If you are ready to roll up your sleeves and begin workshopping what you’ve heard, join one of the Solutions Salon Executive Roundtable discussions in the Gallery Tent today. The first roundtable session will take place between 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM, and the second between 11:00 AM and 12:00 PM. In this workshop session you will join a group of social entrepreneurs for a highly interactive, intimate session. You’ll be given the opportunity to introduce your work to the group, discuss your most pressing challenges, and receive community support to help you meet those needs.

Meet a Valuable Stranger at SOCAP16? Share Your Story With Us!

Made a connection this weekend that has you excited? Our social media team is collecting stories of Valuable Strangers, the people you meet here at SOCAP that hold promising prospects for the future or who inspire you. Go to the JB Media booth and ask for Edwin, our Social Media Manager, to tell your story.

A Note on Afternoon Meetings

Festival Pavilion will be closing at 2:00 PM and the Big Top closes at 12:00 PM. Please keep in mind that any afternoon meetings need to be scheduled at the Firehouse or picnic tables in front of Festival.

Increase your Impact Post-SOCAP

Thank you for bringing your expertise and your passion to SOCAP16. If you are ready to turn your SOCAP momentum into action now, join an Impact Hub, a local membership community and space for driving impact in your city. From now til September 30 we are offering a limited number of packages that include one SOCAP17 ticket plus one annual Impact Hub Community Membership for $1,000 (a full value of $2,000+).

This special is an investment in year-round access and connection to the leading community, space and programming that will accelerate your impact in 2017. Only 100 specials available! Purchase yours today at

SOCAP16 Daily Highlights – Thursday

September 15th, 2016

It is the second full day of the conference at the intersection of money and meaning and momentum is building. Here is some of the amazing programming that will be happening around the SOCAP16 campus today.


Thursday Morning Plenary

Come to this morning’s plenary to hear from established leaders and emerging voices from the worlds of impact investing and social enterprise on new pathways being blazed in the areas of cleantech, equity and inclusion, and sustainable supply chains.

  • Ross Baird, Executive Director Village Capital
  • Ashara Ekundayo, M.A. Co-Founder, Chief Creative Officer Impact Hub Oakland
  • Kevin Jones, Convener, SOCAP
  • Dawn Lippert, Director, Energy Excelerator
  • Deval Patrick, Managing Director, Bain Capital Double Impact
  • Rick Ridgeway, VP of Public Engagement, Patagonia
  • Garima Sahai, Co founder & CEO, Svadha WASH Private Limited
  • Jim Shelton, President, Chan Zuckerberg Education
  • Reuben Teague, Director, Prudential
  • Monique Villa, CEO, Thomson Reuters Foundation

LATAM@SOCAP16 Investment Roundtables

Agora Partnerships will be hosting Investment Roundtables for 11 high-growth entrepreneurial leaders who are creating social and environmental impact in Latin America and the Caribbean. All entrepreneurs participating in the Investment Roundtables at LATAM@SOCAP are graduates of the 2016 Agora Accelerator.

Investors are invited to sign up to join a small group of other interested investors to participate in a one hour intimate discussion with an entrepreneur facilitated by Agora. Sessions will be taking place between 9:30 AM and 4:30 PM. Investors will receive an overview of the business and impact models, growth and operations strategy, as well as capital needed to achieve their vision.

Learn more or register for the LATAM@SOCAP16 Investment Roundtables.

Wine Down and Local Meetup

Thursday Wine Down from 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM. This on-site happy hour is hosted by Impact Hub and SOCAP 365. Connect with fellow attendees from your local community or use Pathable to organize your own.

Meet the SOCENTs of SOCAP

If you have not yet had the opportunity to get to know some of the entrepreneurs that have come to SOCAP from around the world, make sure to visit the Big Top Tent today. There you can see samples and purchase products from the Innovation Showcase and Marketplace. The #SOCENT Central lounge in the Big Top features a lounge and seating area for conversations as well as profiles of over 150 SOCAP Scholarship Entrepreneurs.

Final Day for Free Headshots

If you have not stopped by the Faces of Founders SOCAP Photo Booth in Festival Pavilion, visit between 9:00 AM and 6:00 PM today to share your story and get your headshot taken. The Case Foundation and Blackstone Charitable Foundation are sponsoring this booth and the new Faces of Founders campaign to help make entrepreneurship more inclusive.

To learn more about efforts to level the playing field for all entrepreneurs attend the session Am I an Entrepreneur? Challenging the Stereotypes on the Festival mainstage at 4:00 PM. Speakers include Sheila Herrling, SVP of Social Innovation from the Case Foundation, Blackstone Charitable Foundation, 500 Startups and Zuvaa African Fashion.

Live Demo of the Measure What Matters B Impact Assessment Tool

For those who are interested in impact measurement or currently using the B Impact Assessment Tool, Come to C230 today between 4 PM and 5 PM to see a live demo of the latest version of the most widely used impact management tool. This tool is funded by the impact community and is used to create high quality jobs, strengthen communities, and preserve the environment. Speakers include Kate Ahern, Director, ESG and Communications, Bain Capital; Eric Edelson, CEO, Fireclay Tile; Carla Heim, Senior Advisor Social Entrepreneurship, BDC; and Hardik Savalia, Program Manager, B Lab.

Thursday Self Organized Community Discussions

OpenInvest Beta Launch Lunch 12 PM to 1 PM at Festival Pavilion Yellow Tables

Impact Investor Lunch 12:15 PM to 1:15 PM at the Big Top Tent

Mobile Technology in Africa and Asia 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM at the General’s Residence.

Find out more information on these community discussions on Pathable or speak to the Host to add your own.