Interesting article: Lessons from SOCAP – It’s time to get serious

Posted on November 11, 2012

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Interesting and thought-provoking blog post by Max Pichulik guest-blogger for Next Billion. He shares his reflections on the social entrepreneurship sector and ecosystem after having attended the recent SOCAP conference.

Pichulik writes: “This year’s SOCAP gathering was an absolute treasure chest of insights, dot connecting, networking and intellectual feasting upon solving the world’s greatest challenges. It was my first SOCAP conference and I was blown away by the humility of our fledging sector’s leaders, the collaborative nature of almost everyone I met and their interest in the work we do at the tip of the continent.

However, there also was an itch that began during the conference as I found myself consistently listening to U.S. and/or developed country-driven solutions to global problems. There seemed to be shared problems amongst the network, but what was lacking was diverse collection of voices or local solutions. So, I returned to South Africa, consolidated my thoughts, the jet lag and the engagements I made throughout the conference, and felt the urge to share some observations as a relative outsider (..)”

One of his observations is that: “By default, accelerators, foundations, impact businesses and consultancies hire Ivy League, culturally gentrified employees in foreign countries. This often comes in the form of a foreign deployment, or a U.S.-educated local who has been away from home for half their life. This results in seeking entrepreneurs within existing networks and therefore only exposing a very limited opportunity base. Investment deal flow will therefore be consistently limited, as we continually attract self-recognizable social entrepreneurs and individuals who fit a certain cultural box. Or, we will white wash it with a sub-standard entrepreneur to ensure the enterprise is racially or gender diverse. Meanwhile, no one has actively pulled up their sleeves and deeply penetrated new networks, associations, and cultures to truly source local winners”…Read the full article here.

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