This content was produced in partnership with SOCAP.
Addressing the world’s greatest challenges requires collaboration, but many conferences in the impact investing arena tend to silo conversations to specific types of investors or operators.
Social Capital Markets (commonly known as SOCAP), however, believes making a space for everyone at the table is crucial to advancing change.
More than 3,000 investors and entrepreneurs, representatives of governments and foundations as well as impact-driven service providers will convene Oct. 22-25 for the annual conference, SOCAP19, at San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture.
Since its founding in 2008, SOCAP — once called the “Lollapalooza of Impact Investing” — has hosted over 20,000 attendees.
Co-founders Rosa Lee Harden and Kevin Jones founded SOCAP on the idea “that markets are these messy, dynamic places where everyone can come in, find their role and have that exchange of value,” SOCAP CEO Lindsay Smalling told Karma.
Because of its blend of professionals from different areas of the impact industry, SOCAP presents a unique opportunity to catalyze change. Its focus on collaboration enables attendees to source new deals, identify potential co-investors and gain perspectives from peers working in areas of impact different from their own.
The focus on collaboration and diversity makes SOCAP different from other conferences, which tend to be “much more targeted on their invite list,” Smalling said.
“It’s really such a practitioner conference, so there are not many people that aren’t already — either on an enterprise side or an investment side — somehow involved in impact investing,” Smalling told Karma. “We really believe in the power of what we call ‘valuable strangers.’ You don’t always know who the right people to have at the table are.”
The SOCAP Experience
SOCAP19 will feature more than 150 sessions across 13 themes, including sustainable agriculture, opportunity zones, racial equity, indigenous communities and impact tech.
SOCAP selected more than half the sessions based on pitches from members. It received 397 proposals and settled on 86 sessions, the most in the program’s 11-year history.
“Very little of it is done top down by us, where we’re actually pulling together the content, because we feel like the expertise lives out there in the field,” Smalling said. “We’re just trying to harness it and give it a platform.”
More than 500 speakers will be at the conference, including executives, partners and managing directors from leading impact investment vehicles, including Bridges Fund Management, Illumen Capital, MacArthur Foundation, New Media Ventures, Omidyar Network and the Ford Foundation’s U.S. Impact Investing Alliance. SOCAP plans to release the full list of speakers over the next few weeks.
“SOCAP has much more of a festival feel than a traditional conference feel. Some of the most powerful parts of the convening happen at the picnic tables that are all around the Fort Mason campus looking out at the Golden Gate Bridge,” Smalling said.
SOCAP also produces SOCAP 365, a year-round cross-country event series that reaches people who can’t attend the conference.
“It shouldn’t just be in October in San Francisco each year that the whole field comes together and shares and collaborates,” Smalling said. “We’re trying to make sure it’s a year-round community, and we’ve already got a lot of those pieces in place.”
SOCAP is a leading event for the impact investing industry and is a strategic partner of Karma.