Social Innovation Summit

Social Innovation Summit

Business Innovation Meets Social Transformation

The Social Innovation Summit is a twice annual event taking place in Washington, DC and Silicon Valley, that represents a global convening of black swans and wayward thinkers. Where most bring together luminaries to explore the next big idea, we bring together those hungry not just to talk about the next big thing, but to build it.

Let’s be clear about one thing, we are not your average conference. Those who are playing at the nexus of technology, investment, philanthropy, international development, and business come together to investigate solutions and catalyze inspired partnerships that are disrupting history. If we are obsessed with anything, it is great people. We convene the world’s most potent leaders, thinkers, and practitioners with an unwavering bias towards action and a push towards scale.

To register click here.


Global Philanthropy Forum

Entitled PEOPLE ON THE MOVE, the GPF Conference will focus on the three conditions under which migrations occur.

  • In the first instance, people are moving to cities in search of economic opportunity. In India, China and other fast-growing economies, millions are experiencing economic and social mobility for the first time and are changing their habits, hopes and ways of living. Inventive and productive, they are not staying put. Many, newly aware of the opportunities that await, are moving to cities in search of jobs.
  • Others still are in search of safety, having been forced to flee persecution, violent conflict or state failure. They need shelter, food, education and livelihoods, and assurances of both physical and human security. Many fall victim to human smugglers and prejudice. Providing for their safety and well-being is an urgent necessity. Building the conditions for their integration or return is a collective responsibility.
  • And, third, even those who stay put may be in search of meaning. Restless young men (and some women) may feel unanchored. They wonder whether their values are shared and identity is respected. Often alienated and isolated, they can be vulnerable to the appeal of extremist ideologies that offer a sense of belonging and purpose, even when that purpose is destructive.

MIT Scaling Development Ventures Conference

Join us for a day of conversation on innovative solutions to international development challenges. Hear from leading entrepreneurs and practitioners — from within and outside MIT — as well as representatives from industry, government agencies, and NGOs.

The MIT Scaling Development Ventures conference was conceived in 2012 by MIT forces committed to entrepreneurship and international development.

Original conference organizers included the D-Lab Scale-Ups program, the MIT Public Service Center's IDEAS Global Challenge, an MIT program called the International Development Initiative (no longer active), and the Media Lab Entrepreneurship Program.

The intention of the conference was to convene some of the world's most inspiring social entrepreneurs, at all stages of development, to explore strategies, models and resources that can help development ventures achieve scale for significant social impact.

Through the years, additional members of the MIT ecosystem for social entrepreneurship and innovation have taken on roles at the conference. These programs include the MIT Legatum Center, the International Development Innovation Network, the Comprehensive Initiative for Technology Evaluation, the MIT Practical Impact Alliance, MISTI, the Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, MIT Innovation Initiative, and edX.

The 2016 MIT Scaling Development Ventures conference will feature more than 30 speakers and panelists. Program sessions will include a keynote and guest speaker, two curated conversations, a student demo-showcase, and 10 breakout sessions.

The conference location is in and around the MIT Wiesner Building on the MIT Campus at 20 Ames Street, Cambridge. Using the Bartos Theater for plenary sessions, and the lower and upper lobbies for networking breaks, conference attendees will move out to nearby MIT meeting and classrooms for breakout sessions.

Global Youth Economic Opportunities Summit

Over the next decade, a billion young people will enter the job market. Advancing youth economic inclusion, impact and scale is therefore a global priority. How the international development community meets this challenge will be informed by critical demographic, economic and political shifts, coupled with technological innovations that change the way we learn, communicate and work:

  • Today, nearly half of all youth in developing nations are not engaged in work or study. How do we reach, and create pathways, for young people at the margins?

  • The global economy must create 600 million jobs over the next 10 years – five million jobs each month – to match projected youth employment rates. How will we bridge the gap between the demand for jobs, and job creation?

  • The world of work is changing. What does it mean for young people?

  • How do cross-cutting issues of gender, technology, and conflict impact youth economic opportunities today, and in the next ten years?

The 10th Anniversary Global Youth Economic Opportunities Summit offers an important convening space to talk about these challenges, and identify together, how we will tackle them over the next decade.

The Summit theme’s focus on results and scale is designed to support technical deep dives, while connecting this work to the big picture—helping youth lead productive, engaged and healthy lives.

Conference for Grant Professionals

THE Premier Event for Grant Professionals®

• Choose from over 70 Workshops to aid in your professional development and earn GPC and CFRE CEUs.
• Attend the Opening Session with our Keynote Speaker.
• Network with over 600 other grant professionals from all areas of practice.
• Learn from interactive discussions during our Discussion Dens.
• Speak with experts during our Human Library.
• Visit with sponsors and exhibitors that have fabulous products and services to assist you in becoming the best of the best in Grantsmanship!


International Development Organizations Meet Impact

The big question is: Can they learn to syndicate with other capital, and only use subsidies at the right time.

International development organizations appear recently to have come to the conclusion that there is not enough money in the public sector or in philanthropy to meet the challenges of the world, as expressed by the newly redefined ‘sustainable development goals’. Their solution is to take seriously the opportunity to partner with impact investors and private wealth, who are also focusing on the SDG’s as the compass by which to guide the change they want their for-profit investments to achieve in the world.

But to make that partnership effective, IDO’s will need to start thinking differently. Acting in a traditional unilateral fashion will not work, without regard for initiatives already undertaken in high risk markets by impact investors.  There’s also a cure now for the ‘not invented here’ syndrome that propels unilateral thinking; it’s called ‘major budget cuts to international development finance’. Specifically, IDO’s need to carefully consider when to grant, when to subsidize an early market creation, and when to stop subsidizing an intervention because the market has emerged and a subsidy will undercut the market. Take the example of cook stoves in India.  The World Bank is currently undertaking an initiative focused on cook-stoves in India, with health as their number one stated priority that lends itself to the conclusion that LPG stoves are the best and only technical option.  Whether or not this health factoid is true (and there is ample evidence from the local market that competing local alternative products are strong contenders where it comes to achieving the same emissions goals), this institution is about to flood the market with finance for a stove product sourced in Europe that will essentially wipe out the last 6-8 years of pro-poor, risk financing that impact investors have attempted (at great cost, both direct and indirect) to deploy.  This will likely undercut attempts, both historic and current, at local innovation by local players, and yet again, distortive behavior in the frame of good intentions will provide ‘wins’ in the short term, but highly likely losses in the long term.

One of the smartest subsidies I have seen in the last decades is US AID subsidizing the management fees of three funds to remain at around $15 Million in assets, small enough to fund social enterprises in the “valley of death” (with the $300,000 to $750,000 post accelerator funding), and before they are ready for series A venture funding. In the traditional tech markets that is the space occupied by seed funds or super angels, and those entities either don’t exist or are slow to act in the impact space. The economics of managing venture funds makes funds have to reach $20 to $30 million to be viable to hire top talent with a two percent management fee. AID’s subsidy let Village Capital, the Unitus Seed Fund and the Shell Foundation’s fund bridge this structural gap to finance good companies that could eventually reach series A venture funding, or IFC funding at the $2 million range or so.

Subsidies work to seed a market, but also to distort a market at the next phase when subsidies make it hard to impossible for risk capital-backed ventures to compete with IDO-subsidized programs for specific products, like cook stoves. Later, subsidies to intermediaries make sense for bridging structural gaps in the market to enable more efficient capital flows and the absorption of transaction costs that a market may not yet bear.

Knowing when to subsidize, when not to, or when to subsidize an intermediary is a new kind of strategic analytic exercise for IDO’s who typically may not run a full ‘market maturity’ and concentration assessment before they act. They should do, in the same way that major infrastructure and construction projects do environmental assessments in evaluating unintended impacts before beginning to break ground.  As our colleague Arthur Wood has frequently stated in explaining his paradigm of the social change value chain, an exercise to undertake a major development project must be tempered by an analytic lens that reaches out into the far long term, the ‘beyond’ point at which unintended externalities may be imagined and even evaluated.  Without calculating the imagined value of / or opportunity cost of / or loss /gain of such externalities straight back into the core “cost benefit” budgetary analysis (or outright balance sheet) of a project, nobody can actually achieve a true picture of the impact of a desired intervention.

UN, development and international financial institutions are not known for celebrating their success as a function of measurable outcomes so much as they are known for celebrating their processes.  It is not a stretch to assume that a healthy slice of the $2.3+ trillion in aid that has flowed from the Global ‘North’ to the Global ‘South’ since the beginning of recorded ‘aid flows’ has been allocated to the overheads associated with ‘getting the money and people out there’. No one who knows the world of IDOs would actually dispute this.  Yet now, as tensions rise, global development budgets are hit, and re-organizations begin, our hope is that traditional unilateral ‘ego’ approaches (particularly when they support subsidies) give way to a flurry of higher quality, more collaborative interactions that showcase the best of what humanity has to offer across all sides of the table.

This post was written by Kevin Jones and Audrey Selian, and originally appeared on the SOCAP Blog. It is republished here with permission.