I had one of those I’m-in-the-right-field, mile-a-minute, we’re-gonna-be-friends conversations last night withJesse Grainger, Director of Marketing and Communications for Agora Partnerships (whose “formula" I love: human potential + capital = impact), thanks to my fellow Columbia social enterprise groupie, Patty Yaghmaei. At HK, a great Penn / Times Sq area refuge on 9th Ave at 39th for creative American food and great array of fresh juices!
Jesse has a fabulously eclectic background, from intermittent stints in Uganda to a record label in South Carolina to English-teaching-funded-travel Southeast Asia. And exactly the right approach to “impact investing," or whatever you want to call well-intentioned and strategic use of capital to make the world better. He’s not hung up on definitions, and has no interest in heady discussions about the trajectory of the field. Just excited about capitalizing on the current window of opportunity (2-5 years) to fully mainstream a proactively responsible approach to capitalism.
He made the good point that while versions of this social entrepreneurship / shared value / venture philanthropy have been happening for years, it is his generation that has normalized such holistic, forward-looking approaches to work and life. So, he argues, now is the moment to get on board, without waiting for formal definitions or impeccable measurement schemes, and make investing, donating, and shopping for impact “just the way we live." I’m in…
He also seems to have the right idea about conferences: optimizing the opportunity for all the smart, creative, committed people you can get in a room to interact, strategize, and get stuff done. Not pretend to listen to “experts" on the stage, capturing an occasional 120 character sound byte to publish on twitter in hopes of attracting some new followers. Impact Investing in Action indeed. Georgetown, May 20-23. Be there, I know I will!