News | Development Cooperation 20.06.2011

Web discussion: working with investors to create added value for society

How can investors be included in the process when it comes to achieving positive change for society through social businesses? Ashoka and the Siemens Stiftung invited the members of Social Edge to participate in a web discussion revolving around this very topic. The mission of Social Edge, the Skoll Foundation’s online platform, is to foster dialog between experts and practitioners in the area of social entrepreneurship. As such, it is the perfect forum to reflect the experiences of the Community Impact Development Group (CIDG). Launched by the Siemens Stiftung and Ashoka Deutschland, the CIDG is a network for social entrepreneurs in Latin America and Africa.

The following key questions paved the way for a lively discussion: Will investors unilaterally determine the rules of social investment? How can social entrepreneurs strengthen their role at the bargaining table? What should the marketplace look like for investments in order to meet the needs of social businesses? Participants in the discussion agreed that the principle of social entrepreneurship and the use of growth capital are not mutually exclusive. Investments are desirable because the expansion of a social business greatly increases the chance of positive social effects. Yet this relationship holds many challenges that were clearly outlined during the discussion. Social entrepreneurs need to meet the requirements of their investors – which means that they need a business plan as well as a market strategy. Conversely, investors need to be aware that this particular business field focuses primarily on the needs of people.

It is here that the CIDG network gets involved, offering an international platform for networking between investors and social entrepreneurs. Joint workshops raise awareness among the parties about the different viewpoints and foster personal dialog. The next CIDG meeting is scheduled to take place in Munich from September 12-14, 2011.

To follow the Web discussion, click here