NESsT achieves its mission, of being a catalyst for social enterprises in emerging markets and worldwide, by providing financial capital, training and mentoring, and access to markets for a high-impact portfolio of social enterprises in emerging markets.
They combine the tools and strategies of business leadership, entrepreneurship and investment with the mission and values of the social sector to enable their portfolio to: better plan, improve management capacity, grow, and increase their social impact.
SEWF 2012 was a highly engaging and dynamic event that included a pre-forum ‘Investor Day’ to introduce private and public investors to the concepts and opportunities of impact investing; a social enterprise lab where delegates were invited to contribute to a social enterprise strategy for Brazil; a Leadership session to help prepare the next generation of social enterprise leaders; pre-forum workshops offering delegates access to free social enterprise management training; panels and presentations to inspire; a marketplace to showcase social enterprises; live entertainment; study tours, awards and plenty of opportunity to connect with colleagues and peers.
The outcomes of this event included:
- Finance and investment
On the funding side, we saw the potential of crowd-funding to deliver funding to micro-entrepreneurs, creative thinkers, and social businesses through organisations like Catarse, Itsnoon, and Aliança Emprendedora. Philanthropy and impact investing are part of a financial toolkit focused on delivering social change. Philanthropy is indispensable, and impact investing provides a tremendous opportunity to scale social enterprises.
- Social enterprise in Brazil
Focusing on how to enhance the social enterprise sector in Brazil, the forum invested 75% of the event budget in local social enterprise vendors. There is a need to develop a greater pipeline of social enterprises for impact investing. We also need to align investor and social enterprise expectations. We need to increase earlier enterprise investment readiness and investors should be prepared to take risks and invest at the early stage.
- Leadership development and education
Universities can play an important role in building the social enterprise field, and a standardised curriculum for teaching social enterprise should be developed by multidisciplinary teams from various sectors – one that is focused on technology and also has students doing classwork in the field working with social enterprises.
- Social justice and economic opportunity
Collaborative research, monitoring and evaluation should be encouraged where social enterprise practitioners and beneficiaries provide insights and data that can be expanded upon by the research community and shared with the sector as a whole. Former president of Chile and current under-secretary-general and executive director, UN Women, Michelle Bachelet, said: “Invest in women; women are natural social entrepreneurs.”
Building on the Rio+20 conference in June, where Nicole Etchart urged policy makers and impact investors to encourage “an enabling environment that helps businesses to grow,” the forum included elements such as an Investor Day, a Pitching Place and specific sessions led by corporate and financial leaders to develop social enterprise. New government procurement and regulatory practices are also fostering social enterprises and is becoming a vehicle to attract capital, without stifling the development of new models.
- Management and skills-building
We need to commit to building capacity of social entrepreneurs. For example, it is crucial they can pitch effectively to both investors and all different relevant audiences. Social entrepreneurs should always be ready with three versions of their pitch, making sure to say, in the first minute, what the product or service is, and how much funding the enterprise needs. First, they should have a one-sentence pitch; second, a 45 second-pitch; and third, the full pitch.
- Innovation, invention and design
Innovation creates impact only when it is put in practice and responds to market and social needs. Innovators need capital, capacity support and networks, and they should partner with universities and for-profit organisations, and use design thinking and its human-centered approach to increase the chances of success.
- Social enterprise cases and models
These sessions presented various case studies sharing both the social enterprise and investor perspective. In the same integrated way, we need to invest, test and share industry knowledge from all different perspectives.