Round Table: Developing a Social Investment Framework Arab World Social Innovation Forum May 15, 2010
Maximizing social investment has evolved into an increasingly debated topic in recent years. An innovative approach to tackling the world’s most challenging economic and social issues, its success hinges on both the private and social sectors. Traditionally, these two sectors have only had minimal collaboration, yet current discourse has involved both sides debating how to best partner and leverage their respective strengths to achieve maximum impact. However, such close collaboration between the two sectors is still a developing practice. While the business sector is showing increased interest in donating time and money to solving the world’s most challenging problems, there is no clear framework that combines the practical experience of businesses and the field-expertise of social organizations and creates a continuous flow of investment throughout an organization’s growth. Using the Silicon Valley paradigm as a point of reference, its angel, venture, and growth investment model enable investors to enter into a company’s operations at precise growth stages to provide financial and technical support. It also clarifies and defines the roles, responsibilities and relationship between the investors and the social entrepreneurs. This investment framework allows for timely support at each stage of development, aided by measurable impact and expectations to facilitate steady investment streams, and, if capital is not allocated properly, cease investment. And yet, without such a framework in the social sector, many organizations risk losing private sector support and never realizing full impact. This lack of continuity between the private and social sectors has compelled Ashoka Arab World to explore the possibility of creating a new model for private-social partnership. Is it possible to build a framework that leverages resources and acknowledges the needs of both sectors? How can the private sector assess the long-term economic gains of social investments? Are examples of successful social investments replicable anywhere? How can we develop a framework to link businesses and social entrepreneurs around the Arab region? Who are the different players that contribute to the development of the concept of social investment? How can they universalize a legal, regulatory and financial framework for social investment? During this round table, Ashoka Arab World will present its position on these issues and then solicit responses from participants in hopes of developing a solution to this challenge. By uniting stakeholders from the social, private, and academic sector from both the Arab region and international sphere, we hope to begin to introduce a standard and unified framework on social investment and establish a platform for sharing the results of current social investments and promoting future investments. Following the roundtable, the conclusions and the recommendations will be incorporated into Ashoka Arab World’s forthcoming study on the creation of a framework for social investment. Additionally, the discussions will provide opportunities for pledges of partnerships and sharing of knowledge and experiences between participants to further develop the framework and study.
10:00 – 10:10 – Presentation by Ashoka Arab World on a Social Investment Framework 10:10 – 10:20 – Introduction by Moderator: Moderator will state the content, direction, rationale, and expectations for the round table. 10:20 – 10:30 – Participant Introductions: Participants will discuss expertise and motivations for joining panel 10:30 – 11:30 – Facilitated discussion on pre-prepared questions and topics. 11:30 – 12:00 – Conclusions: Participants will formulate a presentation for closing plenary, discuss ideas for future collaborations and finalize concrete ideas on a SI collaborative framework for publishing. Questions:
I. What is Social Investment? a. How is social investment different from corporate social responsibility and strategic philanthropy? b. What are the advantages of a partnership between the social and private sectors? II. How does SI currently work? a. Questions for Investors: i. How do you identify social entrepreneurs? ii. How do you assess their work? iii. Do you adopt a venture approach (entry/exit strategy)? iv. What are the incentives offered by the government to encourage SI? b. Questions for Social Entrepreneurs: i. How do you reach out to businesses? ii.What are the challenges you face when promoting your social initiatives to businesses? iii. How do you assess your work? iv. What are the incentives offered by the government to encourage SI? III. How can we create a Social Investment Framework? a. How can we benchmark the performance of social investments? b. Should we create new metrics or build on existing financial ratios? c. How can we replicate the success of Silicon Valley in the Arab region? d. How can we build a network of knowledge? IV. How can the legal, regulatory and financial framework operate in a way to endorse social investment? a. Should we standardize business laws across the region? b. How can we encourage cross-country social investments?