Impact investing conference focuses on development in Africa

Investors and social entrepreneurs from across the globe meet up online for a three-day conference to create connections and work toward a more humane, just, and sustainable economy.

By Devin Watkins

The Social Capital Markets conference runs from 18-20 October and gathers over 5,000 people in one tent (virtual, this year) in the hopes of investing in a better future for the planet.

According to SOCAP Global, which puts on the annual investor shindig, the conference seeks to bring together “valuable strangers” to address “humanity’s biggest challenges” through market-based solutions.

The organization works to promote impact investing to put “humanity and the environment at the center of business, unlocking the potential of markets to drive positive impact by changing the way we address poverty.”

Impact investing refers to investments that seek to support the work of individuals or small businesses in order to benefit society or the environment while making a financial return.

Investing in African development

Participants in the SOCAP conference hail from countries around the world and from all walks of life, including social entrepreneurs, investors, foundation and non-profit leaders, government and policy leaders, creators, corporations, and academics.

The focus this year is on presenting a “participative economic model for Africa, where African populations are protagonists in their own prosperity, building more inclusive and mutually beneficial relationships with partners.”

The project, put together by a group of professionals from the African continent, focuses on empowering Africans in the Sahel region to pursue wellbeing and prosperity.

It focuses on three elements: access to long-term, or “patient”, capital; access to markets and data for better value chain integration; and, valuable asset transfer.

One promoter of the SOCAP event says this approach allows people to earn a fair wage, while “progressively getting to own valuable factors of production, which is a key element in the fight against poverty”.

Laudato Si’ principles

The SOCAP conference enjoys a connection with the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development through the Laudato Si’ Challenge.

The Challenge encourages public, private, and religious leaders to implement the principles of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical Laudato si’ through “bold, coordinated, and measurable impact.”

Several organizations have made long-term commitments to investing according to the principles laid down by the Pope to “answer the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”

Acumen, a non-profit impact investment fund, has promised to “improve livelihood and resilience to climate change of over 50 million low-income people across India, East Africa, and Latin America over the next 10 years”. The fund invests mainly in small farmers and their businesses.

Another initiative called the Laudato Si’ Farm Network is working in Senegal to support green startups and fund solar desalination plants, solar cookers, and solar houses. It also helps fund waste management and energy recovery projects.

According to SOCAP Global, Falkon Ventures is employing venture capital to “invest in 30 companies that will empower 100,000 forcibly displaced people by 2025.