Catalyzing Social Capital Markets: 4 Key Publications

Posted by on October 11, 2011 in Education, Entrepreneurship, Measure Impact, poverty, World

Editor’s note: This post is part of our SOCAP11 conference coverage in San Francisco.

Capitalism has alot to answer for these days. Members of this group range from ardent Occupy Wall Street protesters to a sense of common vision that seems lacking amongst citizens. Today, we turn to four wonderful publications highlighted at  SOCAP11  that has been creating momentum to redefine capitalism and would be a significant contribution to the public debate.

1) Impact Investing: Transforming How We Make Money While Making A Difference – Jed Emerson, Antony Bugg-Levine

This ground-breaking book should be your first choice to pick up to explore the transformative power of impact investing. The book explores an integrated alternative to traditional philanthropy and investing – highlighting the applications of impact investing as well as its potential. It demonstrates how it is and can be a positive disruptive force. Perhaps the most interesting angle of this book is the usage of time with impact investing, providing a historical and predictive perspective enabling readers to have a solid understanding of what the present holds. The authors ultimately offer a optimistic vision for what we can collectively achieve when our assets work in unison with our values. As a bonus, I can assure you that the authors are as inspiring in person as they are in the book. No jokes.

Further Resources:

2) Innovations Journal: SOCAP 11 – Impact Investing Special Edition

I’ve been a big fan of Innovations – quarterly compilations of commentary, research and essays from leading innovators in their field. There was a special edition of Innovations for SOCAP11 containing a myriad of perspectives on building the intersection on money and meaning as part of the solution to global challenges. Below is the complete list of contributors in this special edition.

My pick out of all the essays was one by Robert Katz and Brian Trelstad of Acumen Fund on Mission, Margin and Mandate. The essay firstly unwraps the definition of scale and sustainability and then lays out the three paths to achieve this goal through mission, margin and mandate. I was particularly hooked on the dilemma presented: what should take precedence when building out a social enterprise?

“At what point do you evangelize your solution to raise mission-based grant
capital or volunteer support to work on that new product?
At what point to you buckle down and simply execute on sales and service to
grow your margins?
When do you approach the government for changes to policy that might help
get that mandate to scale?”

Further Resources:

  • You can obtain a free copy of their essay here
  • Bonus offer: Write an Amazon review for the SOCAP11 Impact Investing Special Edition and receive a free subscription to the Innovations Journal.

3) Design for the Other 90% – Cynthia Smith, Paul Polok

“It is a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity”. Tim Brown, Change By Design

This book is an extraordinary collection of more than 30 design projects targeted specifically to design low-cost solutions for the world’s population that have little or no access to most products (the other 90%). The stories and brilliant illustrations (partnered with the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum) takes the reader through unique ways to provide better access to basic needs and how innovations in design are often the most successfull in addressing these issues.

Further Resources:

4) A New Foundation for Portfolio Management – Portfolio 21, RSF Social Finance

One of the fundamental concepts that permeates portfolio construction and the asset management world is Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT) – how do you maximize portfolio expected return for a given amount of risk by choosing various proportions of assets. This paper is a great starting point in a call to arms to reevaluate MPT in light of the impact of ecological limits and global impact of investments. The premise of the paper focuses on: 1) Integrated Risk; 2) Selective Growth; and 3) Multidimensional Utility Function to provide investors clarity on the long-term implications of managing a portfolio that goes beyond a purely financial purpose.

Further Resources:

  • Portfolios of the Poor: How the poor live on $2 a day  – Daryl Collins, Jonathan Morduch, Stuart Rutherford, Orlanda Ruthven


Jocelyn is constantly on the hunt for new innovative platforms as an intersection point for business models and markets at the base of the pyramid to contribute to social or economic progress. An impa­tient opti­mist, Jocelyn believes that through com­pas­sion, inno­va­tion and edu­ca­tion, we can be the change in the world.

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