Capitalism, as we know it, has evolved to focus on a one dimensional view of human nature – the pursuit of profit and self preservation. The emergence of the industrial revolution capitalized on this one dimensional theory, where humanity has been persuaded that the best way to attain happiness is to enthusiastically embrace this theory and subsequently transform ourselves into a profit driven generation. In the later part of the 20th century, a powerful movement called globalization swept across the world and the evolution of capitalism was solidified globally. The world now trended towards a ‘global’ economic system which resulted in the widening gap between the rich and poor and between developed and developing countries.
Today, the majority of the world is so entranced with the success of capitalism and the wake of globalization that we have forgotten the true line between what is reality and theory. We have forgotten that at the end of the day, people are multi-dimensional beings and we are slowly coming to an awakening to what has been deeply intertwined in humanity all this time: the need for meaning. Thus, the emergence of the non-profit sector. A section on the other end of the capitalist spectrum to fulfil humanity’s search for meaning.
However, this purely double ended spectrum with purely charitable capital at one end and for-profit capital at the other is breaking down. Instead, a continuum is slowly taking its place. As SOCAP’s website states, “A new form of capitalism is arising that recognizes our ability to direct the power and efficiency of market systems toward social impact.” We are moving beyond the myopia of pure financial returns with the understanding that not every business or market is bound to serve the single objective of profit maximization and that not every non-profit is bound to serve the single objective of service.
On May 30th to June 1st, progressive impact driven investors, social entrepreneurs and innovators are gathering in Amsterdam at the historic site of the first stock exchange, to discover what it means to be at the intersection of money and meaning. The conference, Social Capital Markets Europe, is a collaboration of co-creation and vigorous due diligence to produce an output of over 70 panels and workshops tracking 7 key themes including: impact investing, investing in fragile states and the middle east, infrastructure and innovation, social funding, stories of social enterprise and technology for social change.
SOCAP Europe aims to create a platform at which “investors gather to collaborate and learn from others who are finding a way to invest their money for financial return as well as for the benefit of people and the planet; where entrepreneurs come to find out who has made a break through and who their next partner or next investor could be” – Kevin Jones, Co-founder of SOCAP . Much of the discussion at SOCAP Europe is expected to focus on the social-capital continuum and to discover, for any given social goal, which sort of social capital, or mix of different sorts of it, is most likely to succeed.
“Triodos Bank, Doen Foundation, Voxtra, Root Capital, Unltd, Blue Orchard Finance, Kiva.org, and OPIC are among the pioneering organizations that will be present at SOCAP/Europe. The gathering’s collaborative format will include problem-solving discussions, game-changing funding model exploration, and opportunities to delve into world-class case studies in entrepreneurial innovation” – SOCAP Europe
The notion of social capital markets can seen idealistic, because it is a disruptive idea to capitalism as we know it. There is a compelling case for exploring this continuum. I think there is also a compelling case in our self-interest to do so. We have already waited for far too long. The time to start this social capital movement is now. Let the discovery begin.