Tag Archives: Social Entrepreneurship

New York hosts another Impact Conference thanks to Credit Suisse!

On June 27, 2013, I returned back to my alma mater, Credit Suisse, who hosted an impact conference at their headquarters on Park Avenue.  The definition of impact can easily get you 100 different answers from 100 different people — especially the responses that come from the for-profit vs. the not-for-profit sectors.   A simple definition of impact investment is to create returns beyond financial.  The time is now to get involved and get educated.

The main presenter at this event was a group called the All World Network (http://www.allworldlive.com).  They track the 500 top performers in emerging regions such as Africa, Arabia, EurAsia and Asia.  Two founding women partners spoke about their mission to create awareness of the top 500 in those regions of the world.  Their collective past experience includes analyzing fast growing companies in the US.  This led to the development of the magazine called the INC. 500, now the INC. 5000.

That evening, the founders shared with us how in 1985 a small fast growing software company was discovered — called Microsoft.  At the time, Microsoft was ranked #163 in that magazine.  These founders want to replicate the “Microsoft discovery” possibility many times over in those emerging markets.

Entrepreneurs were invited to this conference from those regions.  They are developing businesses for their local markets and seek American capital for investment.  I had a chance to listen to about 10 portfolio companies led by “social and for-profit oriented” entrepreneurs.  Some  of the business plans ranged from a Middle Eastern woman’s social networking site to Pakistani woman’s publishing entity to former doctors having founded a medical instruments business.  The entrepreneurs that night were seeking capital from $500,000 to $100 million.

In New York, we operate in the world of money and capital markets. New York is the “headquarters” for global capital an offers a bridge to those hungry for capital. The entrepreneurs were exposed to capital investors here in New York that evening.  As more entrepreneurs come from abroad (particularly social entrepreneurs that come to the US) — there will be an increasing need of assistance to help these entrepreneurs refine what is often called an “Elevator Pitch!”  This presents advisory opportunities for Credit Suisse and for boutique firms as well.  (I will speak more about “The Elevator Pitch” in my next article.)  But simply, an elevator pitch means — can you explain the value of your company and also be interesting to an investor during the length of an elevator ride?  

In short, these types of conferences hosted by Credit Suisse are critical to getting the word out to a growing audience of interested parties. This should attract an audience to include wealth managers, funds, intermediaries, philanthropic organizations, and entrepreneurs, but also should reach out to include schools and the student community, i.e., the important up and coming young consumer generation.  

My message to the global impact community and to the large pools of capital is to attend as many of these conferences as possible. This is a format to learn how to start and have quality conversations on how to work together with businesses thinking about impact, and how to create best practices in the process. These are not easy conversations – as the terminology used by capital providers to financial service advisers and to those in the impact and the foundation world are very different.

More than 12 years ago, I started connecting  these various groups with each other.  I realized immediately that there was a need to assist philanthropic organizations, asset managers, banks, legal firms, accounting companies, and endowment plans on how to speak with each other.  I found that I had literally become a bridge to connect the disconnects in communication among these groups (even though we were all speaking English) as there was lots of industry jargon used by both sides.  For example, I remember one meeting hosted at a prestigious law firm with its lawyers and a philanthropic group in attendance. I was able to quickly turn “a long story” of an agriculture project with workers and staff in desperate need of money in a developing country into “IPO speak.”  I turned the project into the Firm’s prospective client, and made easy references to underwriters, syndicate groups, and access to global capital and world trade flows. This sparked ideas and excited conversation that led to one of the partners remembering a network of relationships in neighboring region useful to that developing country.  My background having worked on Wall street, principally at Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank, combined with having built a 501(c)3 not-for-profit in Silicon Valley proved to be KEY to being a useful “translator” for those two different groups at that meeting.      

The experience of working both in the arena of money and the fields of charity (in parallel) has become highly relevant today and is very important, going  forward.  After all, it will be at conferences like this one, hosted by strong global brands like Credit Suisse (www.credit-suisse.com) that will help attract a curious, fast-growing and diverse audience looking to learn more and to become a part of both these worlds — capital and impact, profit and not-for-profit.

Let’s keep the returns beyond financial conversation rolling forward.

Gregory Mark Hill
New York City

The ASHOKA Future Forum in Washington, D.C., May 30-31, 2013 — inspires thoughts about “Karma”

I have been invited to come to ASHOKA by a business colleague, a THOUGHT LEADER who is an adviser to the FORTUNE  100.  But now he is looking at working with more nimble, prestigious, and developing organizations around the world, where I believe his “impact” to the CEO, Chancellor or Entrepreneur will be more profound and perhaps his thoughts will get implemented at a faster rate when compared to large multinationals.

The ASHOKA Future Forum is a conference in Washington, DC —  and appears it is another aspect of the world of IMPACT and also where a RECOGNITION of those who created positive impact for society around the world can share more ideas together.   Founded by Bill Drayton more at  (http://www.ashokafutureforum.com).

What is important to notice about ASHOKA and conferences on IMPACT in general these days — with events such as the Green Festival at the Javits Center to Impact Investing conferences held at JPMorgan and Bank of America — is that there is a groundswell of conversations taking place.  

Those conversations taking place today spearheaded from places like New York City, Washington DC, and London where I have been staying this past week are about what the LEADERS in the areas of wealth management, corporate and industrial America, Europe, and government bodies globally are advocating currently — which is how to attract investment capital from larger pools and resources and where to deploy them.   Large pools, sizes enough to be influential, can be done more easily when there are market based returns offered in addition to creating a positive contribution to society.

In researching Ashoka I learned that it is referred to as Samraat Chakravartin Ashoka – the “Emperor of Emperors Ashoka.” His name “aśoka” means “painless, without sorrow.”   Ashoka is also a rare tree that blooms beautifully in the far reaches of the world.

These conferences are where it all starts, however, with a dialogue, a conversation, i.e., when you start TALKING TO OTHERS and sharing ideas and solutions to problems — THINGS HAPPEN.  

This means connecting and talking at the office, at school, at dinner, on your vacations and holidays.   That is where those ideas can get shared openly, and where the fun ideas, and possibly the great ones start to snowball into something more!  This snowball can be a magnetic FORCE during those conversations which inspire activity that speeds us and our listeners into ACTION!  

NOW, this reminds me of the the SANSKRIT word KARMA, another word bantered about quite a bit these days — but most folks have little idea about this words true meaning is and often I heard his word used to say such things as “I have good PARKING KARMA” — meaning I can always find a place to park my car!

The root word of “Karma” comes from the Sanskrit word meaning “ACTION” — but most importantly it means, to be  ACCOUNTABLE and RESPONSIBLE for your ACTIONS.

I am hoping that this conference will not just be about conversations, but about dialogues of change, where actions are inspired to create solutions that will attract capital and talented resources that will turn into investment returns for investors as well as emotional returns for the world.

More later.

Gregory Mark Hill, London

May 27, 2013