WDI’s London Busy At SOCAP
Thursday, October 15, 2015
Ted London, vice president and senior research fellow of the Scaling Impact Initiative at the William Davidson Institute, took the stage twice at the international Social Capital Markets (SOCAP) conference, which ran Oct. 6-9 in San Francisco.
He gave a lecture on SOCAP TV about the Base of the Pyramid promise – generating business value while alleviating poverty – and how delivering on that promise requires the creation of a “partnership ecosystem.” Watch the lecture here.
London continued that theme later in the conference, leading a cross-sector panel discussion about the intersection of impact investing and inclusive business. Watch the panel discussion here.
“We’re all seeking impact at scale,” London said, starting the discussion. “There are a lot of communities and efforts out to do that. And it’s becoming increasingly apparent that there’s a real opportunity to maybe interact more and to cross boundaries more and from an enterprise perspective, to figure out how to build more robust partnerships and partnership ecosystems to make things happen.”
London’s panel represented three distinct segments in that ecosystem:
- Giselle Aris works at Land O’Lakes Inc., where part of her job is convincing multinational corporations to partner with smallholder farmers. During the panel, she focused on the importance of spending time building relationships: “You can only accelerate building trust so much. … If you don’t invest in mutual due diligence and the feasibility of a partnership, it’s not really a partnership, it’s a transaction.”
- Sasha Dichter is the chief innovation officer at the Acumen Fund, which helps large, multinational corporations partner proactively with social enterprises. He said he’s seen the formation of “more substantive, interesting partnerships” in the past 12-18 months, but “a lot of language being used (in the corporate world) now doesn’t feel dramatically different than language 15 years ago.” He’s skeptical about how much has really changed.
- Megan Mukuria is CEO and co-founder of ZanaAfrica, which is pioneering a contract manufacturing model for sanitary pads in Nairobi, Kenya. She admitted she’s “still trying to figure out that map for who are the gatekeepers” in the funding/partnership world. “It’s a bit of a game.”
London summarized that those involved in impact investing and inclusive business should retain their humility as they figure out ways to work together, learning from successes as well as failures: “We have to always think about building the enterprise or the institute of today, but also, how do we build the community of tomorrow?”