Social Capital Markets (SOCAP) is an annual event that gathers investors, foundations, institutions, and social entrepreneurs in the San Francisco Bay Area to talk about one main idea: the intersection of money and meaning. SOCAP 2012 kicks off today and marks the 5th year of this 3-day event. There is a record 1,600 people in attendance (200 more than last year) from over 25 countries.
Kevin Jones, the co-founder and convener of SOCAP, introduces the conference as a place for “disruptive technology” and “personal connection”. He talks about one person in particular who exemplifies why the conference takes place. This person is Tonee Ndungu, who started Kytabu, a textbook subscription service in Kenya that would make textbooks affordable and accessible for students. The company would source reverse-engineered tablets without all the unnecessary extras so that it costs only $40 to make. In Kenya, poor people can afford to buy smaller portions of products, such as sachets of shampoo. Kytabu operates on the same principle by letting poor familiar rent a book instead of buying it at an unaffordable price. They can rent books on a daily, weekly, monthly, school term, or annual basis. By making both the tablet and e-books affordable, educational content can reach the masses. However, like many social enterprises, what they need is the funding to operate and scale. SOCAP tries to connect the money and meaning.
Tonee Ndungu was one of five social entrepreneurs to take the stage on Day 1 and be given 30 seconds to introduce their organizations with the goal of expansion through investment. The others were:
Alexander Eaton (Sistema Biobolsa) – Based in Mexico, Sistema Biobolsa takes organic waste and produces bio-fertilizer for crops and biogas for heating and cooking.
Sheikh Turay (Liberation Chocolate) – Based in Liberia, Liberation Chocolate helps former child soldiers reintegrate into society by employing them to restore cocoa farms.
Veronica D’Souza (Ruby Cup) – Based in Denmark and Kenya, Ruby Cup is an affordable menstrual hygiene product that helps girls and women in emerging markets manage their menstruation.
Paseka Lesolang (WHC – Water, Hygiene, Convenience) – Based in South Africa, WHC was prompted by a World Health Organization statistic saying South Africa’s water consumption will exceed availability by 2025 to produce a simple device that when installed in a toilet, releases an organic detergent that makes the water reusable.
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Photo from Social Capital Markets.
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