Impact Forum 2013 was held on the 13th and 14th of June at Biopolis, in Buona Vista, Singapore. Plenaries, breakout sessions, workshops and individual talks created discussions bringing to light key issues and innovations pertaining to the overall theme of Investing in Inclusion.
Spotlight on Inclusion
At the event, Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Laureate, Founder of the Grameen Bank and keynote speaker shined the spotlight on Inclusion. He shared that delinking lending from collateral and basing it on trust, has been the biggest triumph of micro-finance institutions. Freeing lending of collateral was the only way that poor communities were ever going to gain access to funds that would allow them to build financial independence.
Professor Yunus went on to cite examples of other players following the lead of Grameen, such as a German city that had started to invest in social businesses as well as large organizations creating social business funds. He hopes that he has helped to expand the concept to countries ranging from Albania to Haiti to Togo.
Rethinking Technical Assistance
In addition to Professor Yunus, delegates and speakers from a wide range of backgrounds came together to share challenges and solutions across sectors and countries. Ennovent’s very own Digbijoy Shukla, Director: Ennovent Circle was also a speaker at the Impact Forum 2013 where he was part of a panel discussion on ‘Rethinking Technical Assistance’.
This panel addressed the needs and gaps in relation to support (or “technical assistance”) for socially focused ventures seeking to scale up and raise capital. The panel explored that access to financial capital, human capital and markets are some of the many areas where these enterprises require technical assistance. However the availability of such support is limited.
For example much of the available support in India is concentrated in certain geographical areas and it is difficult for entrepreneurs to receive support outside the urban centers. A challenge for donors and providers of technical assistance is therefore in identifying approaches that are financially sustainable and scalable, allowing broader access to support for more enterprises.
The panel also discussed the issue of ensuring that technical assistance offered to SEs is of sufficient quality and coherence. It was noted that in many cases there is significant benefit to using local experts with specific market expertise, since market conditions between regions tend to differ widely. Expert advisors must also have the time and flexibility to respond to the needs of the entrepreneur. In the context of mentoring relationships, the panel agreed that it is not only about connecting an entrepreneur with a mentor, but in ensuring a structure around the relationship, much like Ennovent’s new customised mentoring engagements.
Pledges for Inclusion
IIX and Shujog asked all speakers to make a commitment to creating inclusive action in social innovation over the next 12 months. The pledges aim to encourage tangible and sustainable action. Creating the pledges and following them up ensures not just action, but sustainable, inclusive cross-sector action throughout the year, helping ensure that social innovation and social finance stay high on the agenda.
Some of the key pledges for example were:
- IIX and Shujog pledged toLaunch Impact Earth Fund – a $50 million fund focused on early impact investment
- Jiwan Archarya from ADB promised to provide clean energy access to 100mn people by the end of 2015 through the Energy for All Partnership.
- Ashwin Dayal, MD of Rockefeller Foundation pledged to scale up access to renewable energy for off-grid rural communities in India and hopefully beyond.
- Omer Imtiazuddin from Grand Challenges Canada pledges to work on “pay for performance / social impact bonds” for global health.
These Inclusion pledges and the discussions that took place at the event show an exciting surge to continue forward and to bring social capital markets into the mainstream. With over 481 delegates and 50+ impact investor attendees, it is fair to say that Impact Forum 2013 went a long way in highlighting how organisations can invest in inclusion. Ennovent looks forward to partnering with IIX and Shujog once again next year!
As highlighted by Digbijoy at Impact Forum 2013, Ennovent is re-thinking how mentoring can be best provided to accelerate socially focused ventures. Learn more about Ennovent’s unique Startup Services now.