VCC’s President and CEO Jane Henderson spoke to a full house at the SEcon 2012, a three-day forum cast as a “place for revolutionary thinkers to work toward simultaneous social and economic good.” The presentation was an opportunity to share information on VCC and our various initiatives completed and underway throughout the Commonwealth. Henderson took seriously the charge from SEcon organizers to provoke and challenge—positing a series of important questions for discussion on the topic of impact investing.
On March 15-17, several hundred people interested and invested in the concept of social entrepreneurship convened at the College of William and Mary for SEcon 2012. The conference agenda spanned a wide range of topics, from health to education, from food and water to legal frameworks. Speakers from IBM, Calvert Foundation, the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, and Virginia Community Capital, to name a few, offered their ideas to peers and students.
“We put everything through a mission test, always looking for the double bottom line” offered Jane Henderson in her overview of VCC. “Further, we bring mission into a sustainable business model.” These two principles were illustrated on several counts as Henderson described high points from the past three years. The community development financial institution (CDFI) is a new model for many of the audience members, so the talk was educational on a very basic level. Additionally, Henderson provided vivid examples of VCC’s impact. She emphasized the importance of the CDFI emergence and how it bore out, particularly as the financial crisis in 2008 froze traditional funding sources. VCC has been adept at filling the financing gap in affordable housing, downtown revitalization, and community healthcare projects, retaining and creating jobs in the process.
Henderson also inspired aplenty. “Can you do impact investing while making Wall Street returns?” she posed. Henderson suggested this exact result is unlikely. “You have to take some type of social discount.” She hoped others would seriously consider the question. Another query for the group: “Where do you find investors who care about mission?” Finally, “What are the governance models needed to protect proven markets from profit capital overcoming mission-based capital?” In this way, Henderson cultivated conversation and inspired innovative analysis.
If revolutionary thinking was one of the goals, post-event commentary proves the meeting accomplished this and more. “There’s a tremendous energy,” offered one attendee. “This reinforced my reason for going back to business school,” said another. “Ground-breaking” and “very cool” were common modifiers used by several attendees surveyed.
Find these comments and more at the event Website: http://wmschoolofbusiness.com/secon2012/
See Jane Henderson’s entire presentation: