Every chair, ledge and inch of floor space in the Waterfall Room was occupied. Some had taken transatlantic flights to be here while others had hopped across the Canadian border. The diverse group of people from over 80 cities represented all of the moving parts that make up a vibrant city, including policy makers, investors, academics and most ostensibly, entrepreneurs. The conference was called Unlikely Allies, but these different groups are in fact the most likely of allies in creating the “future of cities,” the central focus of these past two days at the Seattle Impact Hub.
A common theme that emerged through the panels, discussions and speakers was the importance of creating strong social infrastructure. This infrastructure exists at different levels. A panel on “Urban Disruptors” featured impact entrepreneurs from Vancouver contrasted with those from emerging economies. The panelists highlighted the importance of a holistic focus. A social entrepreneur has to see how all sectors work together to create the social infrastructure for a better quality of life. This means education and healthcare go hand in hand for the very simple reason that if kids aren’t healthy, they’re not going to school. An example of this in practice is one of Unitus Seed Fund’s portfolio companies, Address Health, which delivers pediatric care through school health programs.
On a broader level, social infrastructure involves many players, from the government to the private sector. A recent Stanford Social Innovation Review article backs this idea, advocating for the creation of “Silicon Valleys of Impact” across cities in the United States, arguing that a robust environment for social entrepreneurs leads to cities that innovate and flourish. The SSIR article lists 4 “pillars” that make a city conducive to social entrepreneurship:
- Quality of life
- Human capital
Capria believes in taking this idea one step further and applying it globally.
Capria’s thesis is that the presence of local impact fund managers is the key to creating entrepreneurial hubs in their emerging markets. Capria Accelerator provides the tools and support for fund managers to set up their investment vehicles successfully and run them profitably. This addresses the first pillar by increasing the availability of capital for these social entrepreneurs. Capria is also contributing to the other pillars. The Capria Network connects fund managers, advisors, mentors so they can share their knowledge and experiences (human capital), with the impact target of improving the quality of life for over 5 million people globally (quality of life), opening up untapped markets and working with global DFIs (development finance institutions) and other more local organizations to improve business conditions and increase the flow of impact capital (regulation).
Throughout the Unlikely Allies conference, participants were constantly reminded to “understand themselves as part of a whole.” This is precisely what Capria aims to do by strengthening the global impact investment ecosystem. Capria is accepting applications now for its upcoming cohorts and is particularly excited to engage with the global Impact HUB community to find managers who can help invest in the organizations that will improve the livability and prosperity of the cities of the future.