There are a great many groups trying to boost the impact investing world, from those creating standard ways to measure social outcomes to venture capital firms. But while the ecosystem certainly is growing, as is the amount of money available, the sector is still largely a patchwork quilt of disparate allies.
Now the Good Capital Project (GCP), a new initiative from the people who run the Social Capital Markets Conference (SOCAP), is bringing together a variety of players in the impact investing world in an attempt to create more cohesion, pinpoint what’s hindering mainstream acceptance and increase the amount of available financing.
It’s an important move for social entrepreneurs, many of whom bemoan a lack of funding.
GCP recently held its first gathering in New York City to kick off the two-year initiative, with attendees ranging from USAID to Morgan Stanley. “We’re bringing different constituents together to discuss some of the things that might be hindering the broader capital markets from participating in this growing field,” says John Morris, managing partner of the SOCAP Group and senior partner of V2V Associates.
GCP joins the ranks of other groups, including the US Impact Investing Alliance, the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) and the MacArthur Foundation, to name a few parties, that are also trying to expand the availability of impact funding and create a more cohesive marketplace. With that in mind, says Morris, “We want to incorporate everyone’s great work in our project and do everything we can not to duplicate efforts.”
The main work of the initial conference focused on six big challenges, with different working groups meeting to tackle a topic, including one on “enabling the entrepreneur.” The team addressed such issues as a lack of trusted intermediaries entrepreneurs can tap to connect with investors and how to encourage funders to communicate and share information about entrepreneurs with each other.
Other working groups ranged from “impact measurement” to “investable solutions”.
The goal is to use the SOCAP conference, which draws probably the largest number of people in the impact investing world annually in one place, as a handy way to reach different players. The working groups will provide an update at SOCAP’s October conference in San Francisco. “We’re trying to drive more collaboration, instead of a series of siloed efforts,” says Robert Caruso, chairman of the SOCAP Group.
In March, Caruso’s Kantian Social Ventures acquired a majority stake in SOCAP. MissionHUB LLC, SOCAP’s previous owner, still has a minority stake. GCP is the newly constituted SOCAP’s first major initiative.
Anne Field, a Forbes Contributor, is an award-winning journalist with a particular interest in for-profit social enterprise, as well as entrepreneurship and small business in general. She has covered those areas for many many places, including The New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, Crain's New York Business, Inc. and Business Insider.