In July, the Patricelli Center announced that – through the generosity of Tim Freundlich ’90 and Bob Miller P’99 P’02 – Hannah Lewis ’12 and Oladoyin Oladapo ’14 were awarded SOCAP14 scholarships. Earlier this month, Hannah and Oladoyin attended the Social Capital Markets conference in San Francisco. You can read their reflections below and watch highlights from SOCAP on YouTube.
So, why are you at SOCAP?
This was the question I’d get following any introduction at the SOCAP conference, whether it was someone sitting beside me at a panel, chowing down with me at the Food Truck Party, or waiting alongside me in the lunch line. With over 2,100 attendees this year, SOCAP’s purpose is to build up an ecosystem for an international market focused on money and meaning. It’s a chance for social entrepreneurs, investors, and others engaged with the social capital markets space to make connections and build partnerships.
So, why was I at SOCAP? I wanted to learn as much as possible about financial inclusion, social entrepreneurship, and impact investing, and how it could benefit low-income populations in the U.S. and Latin America. The conference’s focus was on “igniting vibrant communities,” which fit well with my background in community development work. I wanted to see how I could take what I’d learned working as the Program Director for a nonprofit in Lima, Peru and discover ways to amplify my impact through harnessing markets and social enterprise.
SOCAP was an incredible opportunity to connect with people who shared my interests and passions. For example, I got the chance to meet many social entrepreneurs working with Agora Partnerships, an accelerator for Latin American social enterprises based in Nicaragua. These enterprises ranged from a luxury shoe brand that ensures its workers a living wage to a website that minimizes the supply chain to benefit Nicaragua coffee farmers. I also met up with a couple of Wesleyan graduates doing fascinating things, including Cynthia Jaggi of GatherWell and Jason Rosado of Givkwik.
I went to panels with leading innovators on topics like gender lens investing, scaling impact, and financial inclusion. One of my favorite panels on financial inclusion focused on utilizing collaborative partnerships to meet people’s needs. Representatives from organizations like Mission Asset Fund and Sage Financial Solutions talked about the lessons learned in their work to provide financial inclusion products and services to marginalized populations in the Bay Area.
I left SOCAP inspired by so many people looking to create vibrant communities and improve people’s lives in innovative ways. As I work towards a career focused on poverty alleviation, financial inclusion, and social entrepreneurship, I’m grateful for the connections I made and knowledge I gained. I’d like to thank Wesleyan, the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship, Makaela Kingsley, Tim Freundlich, and Leigh Stewart and her family for my unforgettable experience at the SOCAP conference.
SOCAP ’14 was an amazing experience: a unique opportunity from me to learn so much in so little time. The sessions were insightful and the events were lots of fun but the best part about SOCAP, for me, was the people. There were a couple thousand brilliant minds in one place and one time and it was truly fantastic. Everyone at the gathering had one thing in common: a passion for impact. I had the opportunity to share ideas and engage with like-minded entrepreneurs and investors. The friendships and connections formed there are invaluable. I went to SOCAP to learn more about impact investing and I gained so much more. The conference empowered me to build new partnerships, look at areas and groups I hadn’t considered, and invest in my various communities.
My favorite moments from the conference include:
- Meeting some the award-winning entrepreneurs, leaders of enterprises, both for-profit and non-profit, were selected from over 500 applications received between February and June of 2014, representing 30+ countries around the world.
- Listening to Van Jones speak about #YesWeCode, an initiative targets low-opportunity youth and provides them with the necessary resources and tools to become world-class computer programmers.
- Learning about Google impact challenge enterprises through Invest in the Bay. Nonprofits shared their bright ideas for a better Bay Area. My favorites were 1) Hack the Hood, a program that provides technical training in high in-demand multimedia and tech skills to youth who will then apply their learning through real-world consulting projects with locally-owned businesses and non-profits 2) SubArt an organization that brings immersive, innovative art to the Bay Area’s most densely used public spaces — its underground metro stations, and 3)Build, a program that use entrepreneurship to excite and propel disengaged, low-income students through high school to college success. These were some amazing people.
- And of course, the food truck party!