*Ms. Chie Suzuki sent us a report from the 2nd International Symposium on Social Investment.*
On Saturday, October 12th and Sunday, October 13th, 2013, the 2nd International Symposium on Social Investment was held at Nihon Zaidan Building. I would like to report and give feedback of the first day as a participant.
The first day of the symposium consisted of lectures and reports by oversea guests and panel discussions on the international eco-system which supports social entrepreneurs.
The day started with a keynote speech by charming and smiling Ms. Janice Wilson, the president of Arjuni (Cambodia) in which ARUN invests. Ms. Wilson explained her background, difficulties she overcame when starting her business in Cambodia (local communication, business know-how, funding, etc.) with plenty of humor, and conveyed the true voice of a social entrepreneur. Ms. Wilson’s presentation was perfect for the opening of the symposium, sharing her confidence gained from the fact that she created a business in tune with the local women, and her convincing and passionate manner that have influenced many people around her was inspiring. I was impressed with her down-to-earth stance as a manager, that she does what she does, “because not only it is a good thing to do, but at most, it stands as a business, and at the core of the business, there is something that impacts society”.
Next was the reports from participating organizations. PS Business School (Myanmar) which engages in the growth of social entrepreneurs, established name in microfinance, Oikocredit (The Netherlands and The Philippines), Caspian Advisors (India) which uses their own social indicator for the investments, Intellecap (India), which tries to develop environment that surrounds investments, and us, ARUN (Japan); each speaker made a powerful presentation of his/her efforts in the field, based on his/her role as a social entrepreneur and a supporter of the social entrepreneurship. The presentations were good showcases of each organization’s characteristics and current social investment trend in Asia.
Finally, Ms. Kono, ARUN President, joined the panelists, and discussed how to build an ecosystem that supports future social entrepreneurs. Based on the reports from the first half, a lively discussion was held, and the audience also responded with practical and enthusiastic questions such as fund set-up and the concept of returns in social investment.
In participating in this symposium, I realized that in order to pioneer social investment, it is imperative to share our local practical efforts and collaborate beyond our own legions. Whether it is a developing country or developed, a country needs to solve social problems. For example, the investment method that enabled Oikocredit to produce social returns as well as financial returns, Caspian Advisor’s policy to work closely with the advisees from business planning to supplying directors, Intellecap’s new method of providing funds by building networks between social entrepreneurs and angel investors; all these ideas and methods are good references for us, despite the differences in the finance methods and environment.
At the reception on the first day, discussions continued among panelists and the audience, over organic food and beer. The atmosphere was friendly but charged with excitement, and I felt that we can take the first step of building an ecosystem to support entrepreneurs, if each person took back the discussion to his/her homeground and put it into practice.
I am looking forward to meeting everyone again next year at the even better 3rd International Symposium!