Money, Meaning and Cookstoves Converge at SOCAP15
The 8th annual Social Capital Markets (SOCAP) conference, the top gathering for impact investors and social entrepreneurs, was held in San Francisco this month bringing together 2,600 people from nearly 60 different countries. SOCAP is dedicated to increasing the flow of capital toward social good and the Alliance’s partnership with the organization aims to direct capital to the cookstoves and fuels sector.
The Alliance has become known as an Entrepreneur Experience partner of SOCAP, supporting scholarships for cookstove and fuel entrepreneurs to connect with investors and deepen the conversation on what entrepreneurs need to scale their impact. This year representatives from more than 15 cookstove and fuel enterprises attended. A few returned for their second year, having seen the value in meeting potential partners and investors in previous years. Others, like Rose Twine from Eco Group in Uganda, attended SOCAP for the first time with the goal of meeting investors and getting funding to scale up her operations, noting, “We hope to come here and bring awareness to the people to show that clean cooking is necessary, because a lot of people die from indoor air pollution.” You can hear her full interview and SOCAP story here.
The investment potential for clean cookstoves and fuels conversation has been evolving for several years, particularly due to the Alliance’s presence at conferences such as SOCAP. In its first year, the Alliance sponsored an innovation showcase with 8 entrepreneurs demonstrating their technology. Investors were surprised by the variety of technologies available and needed to address the multiple markets across the globe. This year, the Alliance became a strong content partner of SOCAP as well. The Alliance convened well-attended panels, including one on investing in risky sectors and geographies where Alliance partners, Deutsche Bank and Enclude presented, and the Alliance’s investment advisor, Bob Webster, moderated. Overall, investors, enterprise support organizations, donors, and policy makers confirmed continued commitments to growing the field of impact investing to reach uncommon products and regions, including cookstoves. Although work remains in the Alliance’s effort to raise enough investment to scale the sector, the conversations around cookstoves and innovative financing mechanisms were positive at SOCAP15. The Alliance is excited to continue the momentum in the next year, demonstrating further investment in the sector in time for SOCAP 2016.