The Access Ventures team has just returned from the Social Capital Markets (SOCAP) conference in San Francisco. SOCAP, according to its website, is a “network of heart-centered investors, entrepreneurs, and social impact leaders who believe in an inclusive and socially responsible economy to address the world’s toughest challenges.”

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We were thrilled to be a sponsor for the week and even more excited to be involved in the ongoing conversation of impact investing. Access Ventures managing director Bryce Butler was part of a panel discussion called “Neighborhood Economics, A Whole Portfolio,” with Ross Baird of Village Capital, Premal Shah of Kiva and Ann DeRosa of Chilton Capital and the New Society Portfolio.

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The conversation focused on how to leverage capital creatively to make holistic investments into communities to see them flourish.“Community problems are complex, but often times what we like to do is say education is the solution, or better housing is the solution, or better jobs is the solution. Really what communities need is all of the above,” Bryce said. Watch the full discussion below.

The Access Ventures team was able to spend hours in a wide range of sessions covering financial inclusion, storytelling, creative capital and neighborhood economics. Outside of the sessions we were able to start relationships with some of the world’s foremost impact investing leaders.

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We asked some of those who attended SOCAP to offer some thoughts on what they found to be the most exciting or impactful thing about the week. Here is what they had to say.

“The most impactful part of SOCAP for me was feeling as though I wasn’t alone, and that there’s a network of folks from around the country who are doing this work with quality and rigor who I can lean on for support.”

Derrick Braziel, co-director at MORTAR

“The most exciting thing at SOCAP is that the innovators in particular places, like Louisville, Providence, Cincinnati and Vancouver, started talking to each other about how they are creating a transformative impact on their local communities through lending to uncollateralized African American and immigrant entrepreneurs, and how the faith community is understanding its role as cities explore a new way to answer the question of who is their neighbor.”

Kevin Jones, founder of SOCAP

“I was struck by the number of people I met who were really, really enthused about their work. What a luxury to work in a field where people truly love what they’re doing.”

MacKenzie Fegan, Freelance Video Producer

“The most impactful thing is the annual reminder that communities, not individuals, make change. While on a daily basis it often feels like we are trying to build a better society alone, at SoCap I am surrounded by a supportive, loving community that is all trying to build a better world together.”

Ross Baird, executive director of Village Capital

“SOCAP was impactful for me because it provided an environment where I could connect with individuals who had a variety of different experiences and expertise. I was able to build on ideas, get feedback, and develop connections that otherwise wouldn’t have been available to me”.

Chris Head, co-founder of MobileServe

“When you’re working on system-wide change you often feel like you’re fighting gravity! Meeting so many people at SOCAP who were tackling the same problems was invigorating. It was exciting to collaborate, receive feedback, and dream about what could be!”

David Taliaferro, director of microfinance at Access Ventures

“The most exciting part of SOCAP was to learn more about our partners’ and colleagues’ plans to expand impact investing in the coming year. The idea that impact is a comprehensive theme with deep local applications is very exciting.”

Michael Hokenson, managing partner at CIM

“What’s most exciting about SOCAP is how it facilitates solutions. Leaders and Impact Investors gather every year because they all want to move the needle on solving the most pressing social challenges. When you bring the world together to talk about impact, new partnerships emerge. Social enterprises find patient capital, innovative ideas receive critical feedback from like-minded pioneers, and communities connect with the tools they need to flourish.”

Premal Shah, president and co-founder of Kiva

“From a storytelling and communications perspective, I thought it was inspiring how much it seemed like people were there to learn and acquire knowledge and tools that they could apply to their own work. There were a lot of open conversations, which showed that people were comfortable and really honestly looking for guidance and examples to help them in their own work.”

RJ Bee, senior vice-president of Hattaway Communications

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Our team was challenged and energized by the trip out west. SOCAP is an exciting event with so many inspiring people that are tackling complex problems with creative solutions around the world. We also walked away from SOCAP encouraged by  industry leaders affirming our efforts to continue making investments that enable communities to flourish.

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