Friday, January 30, 2009

Global Social Investment Exchange

I'm excited to be playing a small part in the brainstorming, pre-planning, possible launching of a Global Social Investment Exchange. (GSIX).

Some incredibly creative and accomplished people in online giving marketplaces, social enterprise, poverty alleviation, nonprofit finance, financial exchanges, and technology are coming together to consider the possibilities of a global exchange, modeled on national exchanges like SASIX or BOVESPA.*

Here's the basic description of the meeting:

"With the support of the Rockefeller Foundation’s new initiative on "Harnessing the Power of Impact Investing”, GreaterGood South Africa's Social investment Exchange is proud to bring together a small group of thought leaders from finance, philanthropy, policy, research and nonprofit/social enterprise practice for four days of serious, creative and visionary debate around the nature of, and potential for, a Global Social Investment Exchange infrastructure. The meeting's aims are:

To develop a framework and underpinning philosophy for the Global Social Investment Exchange and an understanding of the requirements for the creation of a global platform for facilitating effective and responsible social investment.

To make a contribution to the debate around the nature and characteristics of social investment and to understand more about emerging trends in different regions.

To clarify some of the issues that will need to be addressed in the areas of risk/return and impact analysis, accountability and governance."

If you are not familiar with the concept and practices of social investment exchanges, here are some resources. First, check out a few of them - South Africa's SASIX, BOVESPA Environmental and Social Exchange, and some inaugural work toward a social exchange in the UK. You can find additional resources on the concept, including discussion on socialedge, slideshows and video can be found online, and this blog xchangexchange hosts a fair bit of information, much of which is moving on to and the social capital index. In the interest of "fairness and balance," some skepticism about the whole concept can be found here.

I'll try to blog and twitter from the meeting(#gsix), but may have my hands full while I'm there. All in all it should be quite a learning experience as well as a meeting that could very lead to action (!) This builds on the my sense that we're in a period of fascinating implementation - as I watch the ChangeTheWeb initiative, see efforts like Drishtipat go from vision to reality, and now get to participate with others in asking the BIGGER questions - such as "not just what kind of pieces would be better than what we have, but what kind of full puzzle can we design to do what we really need?"

Personally, it is quite exciting to see some of the key concepts about philanthropic capital markets continue to come into action, even as the discussion about those concepts continues to expand and diversify. I've been thinking quite a bit about how ideas move quickly with new technologies, but also how ideas that might have been "before their time" can come around again,** courtesy of the global, permanent archive that is the web and the networks of people that it facilitates. This may well be an example of that. I'm honored and excited to participate. Stay tuned.

*And, let's face it, if you have to go back to work, which I do, going back to work in Bellagio, Italy is not exactly... um, how shall I say... roughing it. And, yes, I'm thankful to have a job to go back to, even if it didn't have this "alpine icing" on top of it.
**Thanks to Beth Kanter (@kanter) for discussing this theme with me.


Anonymous said...

How do others get involved with this?
I posted this idea on my Linked-In Generating Social Capital group a few months ago and there is a group of us who have been discussing this around my blog and in the coffee shops.
If there is a way to engage some of us who are also working on this (in Canada mostly) I would be most appreciative in being a part of the process and bringing my network to the table.

Thank you for getting back to me,

Lucy Bernholz said...

Thanks for writing in - glad you're working on this kind of thing! I don't know how to get others involved but will try to find out and let you know. Is there somewhere you can point me to the Canadian group/conversation/idea/site....

Anonymous said...

Lucy - first, have a great time - I know it will be tough, but a good way to jump back into the frey - I will be thinking of you.
Second, check out Jonathan Lewis is convening folks from a cross the "ending poverty" space to create new networks and approaches to ending poverty globally. His approach is to elminate silos, promote ideas that work from wherever they exist, and to recommit to working as a network to end poverty. An interesting and compelling approach that might align with the work in Bellagio.

See you soon.


Lucy Bernholz said...

Thanks Ellen - I had heard about this collaboration early on - its great to see it seems to be getting some traction. Look forward to learning more, sharing what I find out, and picking your brain about it as well.

Thanks for commenting! See you soon


Anonymous said...

The GSIX concept paper states "Social Capitalism clearly suggests we are able to clearly define a model that regards socialism and captialism not as mutually exclusive ends of a continuum but rather as principles that can be integreated in the creation of a new form of sustainable capitalism..." That's pretty heady stuff and it reminded me of the way Chinese officials I visited in the 90s referred to the "socialist market economy" and older debates about the Third Way . But enough of the history of ideas. If the Bellagio conference can unite disparate efforts and direct more money to critical global challenges--like environment, microcredit and, why not, human rights--that would be real progress.