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Adopting a Client-Centric Strategy to the Base of the Pyramid (BoP)
As the Microfinance sector continues to grow, it is now more important than ever to adopt a customer-centric approach where clients are at the core of the product and service development process. The sector has attracted around large amounts of investor capital, but has it ventured too far from its original goal to serve the poor? Who are the key stakeholders and decision makers and how has that influenced lending motivations and incentives? Given the recent controversies in the sector, how do we balance the confluence of commercialization and the growing needs of the BoP for holistic financial services?   Is this customer centricity profitable, and will regulation or the MFIs themselves need to be the driving force for change?

Moderator: Bryan Wagner, Executive Director, Global Sustainable Finance, Morgan Stanley


Moving the Needle for Large-Scale Implementation of Renewable Energy
Over the past few years, the US and the world have begun to overcome the tremendous hurdles linked to achieving significant amounts of renewable energy. Optimists have declared the arrival of a long-awaited clean energy revolution. Iowa now receives over 20% of its power from wind, solar panel costs continue their stunning and precipitous cost decline and California is on pace to meet its goal to have one-third of its power from renewable sources by 2020. Despite these positive signs, pessimists still abound. Vital federal incentives are set to decline or disappear in the coming years, state incentives are drying up in the face of budget crises, and ultra-cheap natural gas creates competition for renewables in the electricity market. So what does the future really look like? What will it take to truly “move the needle” in greening the power that runs our country and planet? Do we stand a chance in combating catastrophic climate change? Our panel of experts is in the field everyday, working to make clean energy a reality. Questions they will answer are: “How far are we from a true turning point to large-scale implementation?” “How, or if, will the upcoming presidential election affect the near-term future of renewables?” “Is there a future for wind in the US?” “How bright is the future for residential solar?” “What would you say to students interested in pursuing a career in this emerging field?”

ModeratorProfessor Bruce Usher, Co-director of the Social Enterprise Program; Executive-in-Residence at Columbia Business School


Adapting Scalable Clean Technologies for Bottom of the Pyramid Markets
Creative business thinkers worldwide are rushing to adapt new “clean” technologies to solve age-old problems in the developing world, such as provision of water, power, light and sanitation. But cost remains a barrier to the spread of life-improving innovations, and entrepreneurs are searching for new business models to bridge the gap to economic viability. As innovations prove viable, the focus is starting to shift towards uncovering the technologies that have the best opportunity to scale fast.  What are the successful approaches employed today to enable financial sustainability? What are the factors that allow an idea to go from early-stage to large-scale?  What are examples of technologies and business models that have had scalable impact? Most importantly: What works?

Moderator: Professor Travis Bradford, Adjunct Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia SIPA


CSR’s Shift from a Go-It-Alone to an Ecosystem Approach
Corporations are not isolated entities and they can no longer set strategies that impact communities and the environment without considering the influence and response of other players in the sector. Leading companies look for innovative ways to change the corporate landscape and how they and their competitors do business. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is moving from internal programs to novel corporate-led initiatives that convene competitors, governments, nonprofits, and other stakeholders to positively affect the ecosystems around them. What new industry standards are being developed and have these led to greater social impact than a go-it-alone approach would achieve? What challenges and opportunities arise from these collaborations, and what are best practices for engaging these entities? To have the best impact, when should companies go-it-alone and when should they engage other stakeholders?

Moderator: Professor Geoffrey Heal, Donald C. Waite III Professor of Social Enterprise, Columbia Business School


  • Chris Librie, Director, Hewlett-Packard Sustainability and Social Innovation
  • Payal Dalal, Head of Public Affairs for the Americas, Standard Chartered Bank
  • Andrea Flynn, Vice-President, M.A.C. Aids Fund

The New Nonprofit: How Metrics and Social Capital Markets are Changing the Industry
As nonprofits grow and attempt to scale, metrics and social capital markets have played roles to shape the path nonprofits take.  Metrics have not only changed the way nonprofits and funders have measured effectiveness, but also the way nonprofits have managed themselves. Nonprofits are looking for changes, if any, to their delivery model to maximize impact, while also trying to determine if metrics can measure beyond inputs and outputs and also measure outcomes. In addition, as nonprofits grow, funding and financing is now more important than ever. The traditional patterns of funding have shifted with the emergence of B Corps and L3Cs, and the role of social capital markets has grown significantly.  Please join us as we discuss the shifting role of metrics and social capital markets and whether they are creating scale and impact in the new nonprofit today.

Moderator:  Professor Melissa Berman, President and CEO, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors; Adjunct Professor, Columbia Business School


  • Chuck Harris, Portfolio Manager and Director of Capital Aggregation, Edna McConnell Clark Foundation
  • Nitzan Pelman, Executive Director, Citizen Schools
  • Phil Buchanan, President, Center for Effective Philanthropy

Financial Innovations in Community Reinvestment
While the Community Reinvestment Act has mandated investments in underserved urban markets, many American cities continue to face dramatic economic decline. CRA investments have largely been unable to provide solutions to rising unemployment rates, crumbling infrastructure, outsourced manufacturing work, and deteriorating social safety nets. How can increased access to capital for governments and entrepreneurs provide solutions? What financial innovations will incentivize the investment of capital at scale to develop the economic and environmental sustainability of American inner cities? This panel will examine social impact bonds, public private partnerships, CDFI bonds, and innovative amendments and approaches to the Community Reinvestment Act that can increase the scale, impact and returns of investments in underserved urban markets.

Moderator: Professor Antony Bugg-Levine, CEO, Nonprofit Finance Fund; Adjunct Professor, Columbia Business School


  • Scott Budde, Project Director, Sustainable Agriculture Credit Union Research Project; Founder, Better Harvest Federal Credit Union
  • Cathy Dolan, Chief Operating Officer, Opportunity Finance Network
  • Jeannine Jacokes, Senior Policy Advisor, Community Development Bankers Association
  • Daniel Nissenbaum ’88, Chief Operating Officer, Urban Investment Group, Goldman Sachs

Media as a Catalyst: Storytelling and Social Action
In recent years, technological innovations have shifted the way the media operates, and at the same time made it a more potent tool for efficiently and effectively educating people around the world about pressing social issues.  Yet the energy and interest spurred by ideas communicated through film or video often fails to translate into concrete action. How can storytelling by film and media innovators successfully mobilize grassroots movements?  What effects have media and accompanying campaigns had on current issues? What are the implications of storytelling for other social issues?

Moderator: Simon Kilmurry, Executive Producer, PBS series POV


Implementing a Sustainable Supply Chain that Builds Communities
A key example of how companies have incorporated social and environmental impact into their core strategy and operations is in the implementation of a sustainable supply chain. Such companies are increasingly reaping the benefits of diversifying their supplier base to incorporate bottom of the pyramid enterprises, and of improving operational practices with suppliers and outsourced providers. Local communities also benefit; from improved environmental and labor standards to sustainable economic growth. In what practical ways have companies across industries developed and implemented supply chain strategies that optimize social and environmental returns? How have companies created long-lasting partnerships without compromising competitiveness? What trade-offs could arise between social impact and profitability and how can companies manage these potential conflicts?

ModeratorProfessor Garrett Van Ryzin, Paul M. Montrone Professor of Private Enterprise, Chair of Decision, Risk, and Operations, Columbia Business School


Bridgespan Strategy Workshop: Case Study on How to Reach the Next Level of Impact

Maximizing your organization’s social impact with limited resources has become an increasingly important priority whether you work at a large consumer products company or a nonprofit. Tighter budgets and greater demands from customers, activist investors, shareholders, and the media are putting more pressure on organizations to define and execute a strategy to tackle intractable social and environmental problems. And yet there continues to be insufficient focus and coordination among organizations that could produce breakthrough results for education, healthcare and poverty alleviation. In this workshop, The Bridgespan Group will take participants through the process they used to work with their client Educators 4  Excellence to build an effective strategy, grow membership quickly and influence the conversation in the educator sector over the last two years. What were the key decisions Educators 4 Excellence made to grow its influence? How did the organization think about creating a sector strategy that incorporated policy makers, non-profit leaders and other stakeholders in the education sector? What lessons can participants implement in their own organizations?


  • Erin Sweeney, Case Team Leader, The Bridgespan Group
  • Sydney Morris, Co-Founder & Co-Chief Executive Officer, Educators for Excellence

Social Venture Pitch Competition
in collaboration with Jalia Ventures and Serious Change
The 2012 Social Impact Pitch Competition will feature emerging social entrepreneurs in a variety of fields who will each be allotted five minutes to pitch their enterprise to a panel of judges.  The judges will provide feedback and rate each competitor. This session is intended to highlight and analyze the common interaction between funder and entrepreneur and to expose conference participants to exciting new startups in the social enterprise space. The audience will also vote for a winner, who will receive a cash prize.

Moderator: Professor Ron Gonen ’04, Founder, RecycleBank; Adjunct Professor, Columbia Business School



SIT Workshop: Systematic Creativity in Social Enterprise

Like all businesses, social enterprises are under pressure to innovate in order to effectively and efficiently achieve their missions.  How can a disciplined approach to creative thinking, developed for and utilized by businesses across the world, lead to improved outcomes for social enterprises?  This interactive session will touch briefly on some basic concepts of creativity and innovation, and engage participants in an exercise in which they apply an innovation method to their own cases in order to learn and practice the basics of a skill that they can use to drive innovation in current or future social ventures.


  • Amnon Levav , Managing Director, SIT (Systematic Innovative Thinking)