Archive for the ‘Social Entrepreneurs’ Category

Save the Date & and Get the Lowest Price SOCAP16 Tickets!

December 17th, 2015

SOCAP16 will take place September 13 -16, 2016, at Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, California. Will you be there? SOCAP convenes social entrepreneurs, impact investors, business leaders, and innovators from around the world to accelerate the marketplace at the intersection of money and meaning.

More than 2,600 attendees from 60+ countries came to the sold-out SOCAP15 conference and it was our biggest and best event to date!


Join us for SOCAP16

As we officially launch SOCAP16, we are excited to offer a limited number of tickets at the lowest ticket price of $745. But hurry, the sale ends on December 31st.

Purchase your SOCAP16 tickets now to get the best rate possible.

All tickets include access to three full days of content, meals, evening parties, an online connection platform & much more.

Professional Development

If SOCAP16 is on your 2016 conference calendar or if you have money left in your 2015 professional development budget, take advantage of this great price. If you would like to pay for part of your ticket(s) using funds left over from your 2015 budget and then pay the rest in 2016, email for more information.

Watch the SOCAP15 Sessions

Want to see, rewatch or share the SOCAP15 experience? The sessions are now available on the SOCAP YouTube channel.

Over 12,000 People Convened to Date

Find out for yourself why SOCAP and has drawn more than 12,000 people to date. Be a part of the conversation and get your SOCAP16 tickets today!


Here’s what people are saying about last year’s event:

“I’m at SOCAP because I believe we can use finance as a tool for social change.”~Melissa Pierce, Produce & Director of Born with Curiosity

“The most inspiring part of SOCAP15 was hearing that impact is outperforming conventional portfolios.” –Jim Fournier, Cofounder, Chairman & President of Planetwork

“After being in the field for two decades — so happy to see the phenomenal growth and interest of young people still trying to make the world a better place. Go SOCAP!” ~Gabriella Morris, US Fund for Unicef.

SOCAPtv: “Demystifying Accelerators” w/ Jenny Everett of ANDE

October 8th, 2015

Jenny Everett is the Deputy Director of the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE). On Wednesday morning of SOCAP15, she discussed the Global Accelerator Learning Initiative and their goal to understand whether or not accelerator programs actually work.

Presenting just up the road from Silicon Valley, a place often credited with “creating the modern-day accelerator,” Jenny takes a look at how the accelerator model has exploded across the globe by a wide spectrum of organizations working to support the growth of small businesses and entrepreneurs. While these programs are expansive and time consuming, a big question remains: Do they actually work?

As a sector, Jenny points out that there’s a lack of information about whether these programs are effective, but the Global Accelerator Learning Initiative is working to change that. It’s a partnership attempting to build “a longitudinal data set” of entrepreneurs who have applied to accelerator programs and who will have their successes tracked for three years post-application, regardless of acceptance to a program. The collected data will address a spectrum of contributing factors, including the presence of mentorship, the length of the accelerator program (3 months, 6 months, etc.), the platform of program attendance (in-person or online), the type of program (whether or not it is an impact accelerator), and other attributions like men-led vs. women-led businesses – all of which bring up questions that there are currently no clear answers for.

To answer these and other questions, the Global Accelerator Learning Initiative has collected data on 3,000 enterprises, with the following program commonalities:


Through this data, the Global Accelerator Learning Initiative is already starting to see trends, helping them understand what works best in the accelerator arena. Their early findings show:

  • Ventures with women on their foundational team are less likely to attract equity investors, but significantly more likely to report positive revenue and have higher philanthropic investment.
  • A small minority of their sample are actually using assessment tools like B Lab and Iris. Could this be due to lack of awareness or accessibility to early-stage enterprises?
  • Founders with entrepreneurial experience are significantly better at attracting equity.
  • Ventures with founders who hold patents, copyrights, and trademarks are more likely to gain equity investment and report positive revenue and employment.
  • There is a bias among program selectors towards ventures with more established track records.

Are Programs Successful?

Well, that depends on how an organization gauges success. This slide from Jenny’s talk highlights some different interpretations:

Measures of Success

This question of success gets even more diverse when you talk to funders about their individual goals, as this next slide illustrates:

Funder goals

Again, while these organizations are all supporting accelerator programs, they each have different end goals.

So Do Accelerators Really Work?

In regards to for-profit accelerators, this question may not be relevant. As long as they can generate revenue through their programs, they can still function. However, for those interested in more than just financial impact, this is an important question to consider. Overall, Jenny points out the need to understand and identify “the right programs, that work in the right situations, for the right entrepreneurs.”

The Global Accelerator Learning Initiative hopes that through further participation, they can continue to generate key data and create an understanding of the efficacy of accelerator programs globally.

For Jenny’s full presentation, and for more SOCAPtv programing from SOCAP15, visit

Day One Highlights

October 7th, 2015

Highlights from SOCAP15 Day One

Welcome to all those attending the world’s largest conference on impact investing! SOCAP15 has brought together an incredibly diverse crowd of impact investors and social entrepreneurs from around the globe, as well as some of the world’s leading figures in business, finance, technology, and philanthropy. For those of you who cannot be here with us at the Fort Mason Center, you can follow all the great programming happening on the main stage via SOCAP15 Live Stream on YouTube. We will also be updating you with highlights from the conference here on the blog and also through Facebook and Twitter.

Impact Bazaar, Gratitude Award Pitches, and More

Our opening night of programming reflected the wide range of voices within the SOCAP community. We heard inspiring stories from across the impact space: from Tae Yoo of Cisco, the nine Gratitude Award nominees, and from Becca Stevens of Thistle Farms. We also heard several moving and thought provoking songs from Musician Chuck Cannon. In one moment, SOCAP Co-Founder and Executive Producer Rosa Lee Harden told the assembled crowd, “SOCAP really is the meeting of our minds and our hearts.” This first evening of SOCAP15 celebrated entrepreneurs and shone a spotlight on some of the boldest changemakers in the impact space.

Gratitude Award Pitches


For the second year in a row, the Gratitude Award finalists pitched their ventures to the live SOCAP audience. Randy Haykin and Paul Miller of The Gratitude Network introduced the nine ventures that made it through multiple rounds of judging to make it to the main stage at SOCAP15. All of the nominated entrepreneurs inspired the crowd with stories of innovation and impact. Each of the finalists who pitched tonight will receive a year of mentoring from The Gratitude Network. Of those nine finalists, a panel of expert judges will select three Gratitude Award winners, one in each of three categories: Education, Community Development and Sustainability. The fourth and final winner will be selected by you, the SOCAP audience. The four chosen Gratitude Award Winners will be announced during the Friday Closing Plenary Session from 12:30 – 2:00 pm.

Vote for the SOCAP15 Gratitude Awards Audience Choice Winner Here

Here are the nine Gratitude Awards finalists that presented:

Community Development

    • CEO and Co-founder Shantanu Patak presented CareNXInnovations.
    • CFO Miranda Phua presented CityTaps.
    • CEO and Founder Christine Souffrant presented Vendedy.



    • Director of Business Development Isabel Sheinman presented Library For All.
    • Co-Founder and CEO Jane Mitchell presented The Reset Foundation.
    • Founder and CEO Megan Mukuria presented ZanaAfrica.


Environmental Sustainability

    • Michael Thornton could not attend but sent in a video presentation for Carbon Analytics
    • President Antonio Aguilar presented CASSA.
    • Founder Parag Gupta and Rob Whiting, Director of India Operations presented for Waste Ventures.


If you missed the pitches at today’s Impact Bazaar, you can visit the finalists in the innovation showcase in Herbst Pavilion, or read about them on the Gratitude Fund website. The four Gratitude Awardees will win the opportunity to meet with a Super Mentor. The 2015 panel of Super Mentors includes:

    • Ed Catmull, CEO of Pixar
    • Ron Conway, Co-Managing Partner of SV Angel
    • Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO
    • Meg Garlinghouse, LinkedIn For Good
    • George Zachary, VC at Charles River Ventures


When she retook the stage after the Gratitude Award presentations, Rosa Lee Harden said,  “That is the reason we do SOCAP” and then thanked the entrepreneurs for sharing their amazing stories.

Announcements From the Stage

Sam Utne of of Impact Hub New York announced Impact Bazaar, an exciting new program that will debut October 21st. Impact Bazaar will be a live marketplace for the impact innovation ecosystem in NYC. SOCAP15 attendees who live and work in NYC will get free access and the opportunity to host free workshops sharing their resources with other innovators.

Tae Yoo, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs at Cisco announced new research into Key Performance Indicators for social innovation entrepreneurs they will release in partnership with UBI Global. This is the first benchmark analysis of socially-focused incubators in the US. Wu said that they undertook this research to acknowledge that “we are all global problem solvers” now. For those in attendance at SOCAP15, Cisco and UBI Global will be holding a session on Thursday 10/08 to present their findings.

Entrepreneur Panel:

SOCAP Co-Founder Kevin Jones closed out tonight’s programming by moderating a panel focused on the challenges and triumphs of social entrepreneurs including personal stories from:

  • Alloysius Attah of Farmer Line
  • Matt Flannery of Branch
  • Becca Stevens of Thistle Farms
  • Xavier Helgesen of Off Grid Electric

Share Your #SOCAP15 Experience with the World!

We invite you to share your insights with the global SOCAP community. The world will be watching social media for commentary on the conversations at SOCAP15. Please use any of our themed hashtags to share your insights and observations with those that can’t be with us here in San Francisco.


​#ImpInv (for Impact Investing)

#NeighborEcon (for Neighborhood Economics)

​#DivInv (for Divest/Invest)

#FinInc (for Financial Inclusion)


Our attendees have broken all attendance records this year. You have made this the biggest SOCAP ever, again. Thank you! We are excited to begin our first full day of plenaries, panels, and workshops on Wednesday.

SOCAP Conversations: Avary Kent, Executive Director of

October 1st, 2015 is a backbone organization dedicated to supporting transparency, co-operation, and collaboration within the impact ecosystem. Their flagship programs, Convening the Conveners and Accelerating the Accelerators, create solutions that make it easier for impact conferences and accelerators to work together, share knowledge, and coordinate efforts. grew out of a conversation at SOCAP13 led by Topher Wilkins and in the last two years this organization has attracted some of the biggest players in the space with a proven track record of creating effective solutions that fit real needs. We recently sat down for a conversation with Avary Kent, Executive Director of, about the impact her organization is creating within the space.

SOCAP: Can you describe the role plays within the Impact ecosystem?

The role we play is essentially as an ecosystem coordinator. We currently work with 150 different conveners around the world. We share best practices, host webinars, and blog on convening. Our new online membership resources launch this week at SOCAP15 including the “What Works” database, Facilitation Encyclopedia, and our Global Events Calendar 2.0. Our objective is to shift the paradigm of convening away from the “sage on stage” talking head model to a more participatory and engagement focused model. We are finding that conveners who embrace this shift are quite successful. There is real frustration from attendees when they must sit and listen to people talk at them through an entire event.

Can you share a story that illustrates the impact that you’re already having within the space?

The Association of Enterprise Opportunity, a domestic association microfinance and CDFI institution, hired us to do the experience design and facilitation of the leadership forum they held for CEOs this past spring. This was their 24th year hosting conferences, but they had never done an event focused on CEOs before. We incorporated a lot of the principles that we’ve learned from our members and the attendees said it was the best event they had ever been to. We doubled the retention rate through day three, and I think we had a real impact on the ability of those micro-business enterprise organizations to collaborate with one another. They’ve brought us in to plan the learning conference for their front line staff this fall.

How does improved coordination between conveners help the impact space overall?

There are now well over 650 impact conferences in the world. That’s more than one a day. Sometimes four or five conferences happen at the same time! As an attendee, it can be very difficult to navigate that field. A veteran probably has conferences they regularly go to, but might be missing out on some really valuable new experiences. If you’re new to the field, you have no idea which events are going to be the best investment of your time, money, and resources.

If convenings are one of the main ways that people are introduced to the impact ecosystem, there is a real risk for our space if we come across as uncoordinated. If people start seeing the same speakers giving the same presentations at the same events over and over again they’re going to bow out. That’s one of big reasons we’re working on the speaker directory. Of course, one function is to encourage diversity and promote more women, minorities, and millennial speakers on stage. But another is to track all previous conferences speakers have been to and their presentation topics so that our members can check. It’s about being able to have all the information to construct a really thoughtful and well informed agenda.

Your other flagship program is Accelerating the Accelerators. What was the spark for that event and how has it evolved?

Yes, that emerged directly from SOCAP. I was working with the SOCAP team in 2011 to help prepare a common application and streamline the application process internally for SOCAP and Mission Hub. That evolved into the Impact Accelerator Network, which led to the first accelerators session at SOCAP13. When I came on board with we realized the needs and solutions we were creating for the conveners were highly transferable to the accelerators. So we created Accelerating the Accelerators. We partnered with GSBI again last year to do a day long workshop that had a significant impact. It brought the community together in a very authentic way. Only program managers attended. We engaged in some pretty vulnerable and interesting conversations about program evaluation, measurement, funding, business models, and things that are really difficult to talk about if you have funders or entrepreneurs in the room. We’re delighted to be doing that again this year and we have a pretty remarkable agenda planned.

In the last year we have launched an Effective Cross Promotion Bulletin for accelerator leaders to share their needs with the community (and which stops each program manager from receiving 80 different emails asking for promotion support). Another big effort we’ve done is a Collective Impact Project lead by interests from the Mentor Capital Network and GSBI to craft an accelerator selection tool. The tool is now offered on Enable Impact where you can filter by which programs are open, what they focus on, and what kind of support they provide.


We also created a tool that I’ve heard has been very valuable to entrepreneurs, which is a accelerator landscape map. Entrepreneurs in various school programs are looking at this and identifying which programs should they approach, or if they are idea stage, or prototype stage, or growth stage, you know, what kind of support they’re looking for. It started as a physical thing we created at the Accelerating the Accelerators day last year, and then we were able to do it again in Nairobi, Kenya with Sankalp and a large number of the African Accelerators. And then others just saw it and they emailed us and said, “Hey, we belong here.” We recently published an update that’s significantly more robust. So our hope is to create tools and resources that enable entrepreneurs and stakeholders in the Impact Ecosystem to navigate the field more easily. That’s why we think the global calendar, accelerator selection tool, and common application and all these things are so helpful.

Where do you hope this will go? What future do you hope to see five years from now?

I hope five years from now, depending on which point of view you’re coming from:

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re able to get the support you need when you need it to move to the next stage of growth for your company. And that it is a very easy process with a low pain threshold. Right now it’s quite painful to apply to various programs, or even find the right program. It takes over a hundred hours sometimes to find out which programs to apply to. That’s ridiculous. Let’s get that down to less than one hour.

As an attendee of conferences, you will be able to more easily identify which convenings are going to connect you with the right people, with the right content, and the right experiences to advance your work. To create lasting partnerships, that enable you to create that valuable front line impact on the ground.

I think for conveners it’s going to be easier to plan the right dates, to find the right sponsors, to bring in attendees early (and plan your budget accordingly).

Above all, we will grow the movement for positive impact because we’re going to move far beyond the usual suspects and start incorporating all these high impact industries that are sitting at the edge like healthcare, digital security, education, and even real estate development and planning. That’s a huge opportunity for impact. If you design it wrong from the beginning you’re going to have a lot more pollution and a lot less happy people.

There are all of these other fields that we don’t consider impact right now. But I think if we want to shift “social entrepreneurs”, to just “entrepreneurs”, that requires us expanding who our allies are and you do that through convening. I believe by connecting these organizers, and working at this meta level, you help them do their jobs better, you create better experiences for their attendees, so that they’re able to better implement their work on the ground that creates a global ripple effect.

What’s inspiring you in your work right now? What’s giving you hope for the future?

It’s working! You know, every conversation I’ve had with a convener they tell me they are getting better feedback from their attendees. The folks on the ground are saying, “this is working.” The accelerators are finding more meaning and recognizing that they are more powerful when they have a shared voice. I think there will be opportunities down the line to do advocacy and shape some of the systemic barriers that are in place.

We haven’t even officially launched yet. We’re launching at SOCAP this year. We have done nothing to promote ourselves or talk about ourselves or do anything like that and we’ve already got 22 registered members. We’re already financially self sustainable from our consulting work, which is all focused on working with foundations and nonprofits that are making a powerful impact on the world.

How can SOCAP15 attendees interact with you at the conference this year?

At SOCAP15, will be leading a Convening the Conveners session that all conveners are welcome to attend on Friday the 9th from 9AM-11AM in room 235C.  During this session, attendees will be updated on new improvements and suggest focus areas for 2016.


avary-kent headshotAvary Kent is the Executive Director of Avary combines training in genetic engineering and ecology with a Sustainable Enterprise MBA to lead impact focused start-ups from idea to reality. She started in Impact Investing focused on private equity impact measurement with HIP Investor. She is the Co-Founder of focused on investment news for a sustainable edge. She is an expert in experience design combining elements of neuroscience, behavioral psychology, and human centered design to craft participatory conference experiences in the impact sector.

Agora Partnerships Connecting Investors and Entrepreneurs with LATAM@SOCAP15

September 17th, 2015

By: Dana Warren

34183060_agora_partnerships_logoOur mission at Agora Partnerships is to accelerate the shift to a sustainable economy, one that creates shared value for all stakeholders including future generations and the environment. Entrepreneurs are the key engine to this shift. They are closest to understanding customer needs and closest to harnessing market forces that can scale their solutions quickly and sustainably.

A major challenge for talented entrepreneurs trying to improve upon the status quo is a lack of access to the key ingredients they need to grow a business: knowledge, networks, and capital. We know the capital is out there, but what is lacking is a vibrant and effective capital market for early stage impact investing.

Deal Rooms at SOCAP15

SOCAP has emerged as one of the leading creators of this market, convening an impressive 10,000 people since 2008 who share a vision for a sustainable future. Because of this, SOCAP is the ideal venue for LATAM@SOCAP, a conference-within-a-conference that brings together entrepreneurs solving problems in Latin America and mission-aligned investors willing to take risks in order to create social change. The Deal Rooms at LATAM@SOCAP are an effort to begin to build a marketplace that makes it easier, faster, and more efficient for values-based investors to connect with values-based entrepreneurs. These small group discussions are entrepreneur-led, provide investors with an overview of the business, and focus on a strategic questions that investors can help the entrepreneur to address. Deal Rooms is not a shark tank, but an opportunity to learn, to share, to build relationships, and we hope, to actively engage with a group of extraordinary people from across our hemisphere.

The entrepreneurs hosting the Deal Rooms are building truly amazing business models that are reforming education through technology, bringing farmers the value they deserve, empowering indigenous communities, influencing the fashion industry with eco-friendly designs, inspiring the adoption of clean cookstoves, and providing access to basic services to BoP populations across Latin America.

“We believe strongly in the the quality of the entrepreneurs as well as the quality of the investment opportunities and invite investors to come see what is happening on the front lines.” -Ben Powell, Agora’s Founder and CEO

Last year at LATAM@SOCAP14, 21 Deal Rooms led to eight investments (ranging from $50K – $500K) in health, sanitation, education reform, sustainable agriculture, and financial innovation across Latin America. One particular Deal Room inspired four investors to co-invest in a seed round, sparking impressive growth and impact for coffee farmers in Latin America.

We are hoping with LATAM@SOCAP15 to give investors the opportunity to meet and invest in some of the most inspiring entrepreneurs working in our hemisphere – and to take action at the intersection of money and meaning.

LATAM@SOCAP15: Where and When

LATAM@SOCAP15 will take place on October 6th in Building C at Fort Mason. The day will begin at 9:30am with 30-second pitches, followed by 24 hour long Deal Rooms from 10:00am until 5:00pm. The day will conclude with an investor reception. You can also join us at any time throughout the day in C260 (Building C) to connect and network with other investors and entrepreneurs.

The full Deal Room agenda, including the details of all participating companies will be available shortly on Pathable. Access to the Deal Rooms is included in the regular SOCAP ticket. One-day tickets are also available to attend only the Deal Rooms (click here).

If you are an investor building your pipeline, you are interested in investing in Latin America, or your investments focus on sustainable agriculture, ethical fashion, indigenous business leaders, clean cookstoves, financial services, or basic services (energy, education, health/sanitation) we welcome your participation! Please get in touch with Sarah Gearen ( to learn more.