The Editors' Post: In a coffee shop in Cartagena...

Reporting from Colombia, Pioneers Post's Anna Patton discovers an immense desire to connect after the enforced isolation of the pandemic among the 300 'impact minds' at the first ever Latimpacto event. Plus: this week's top stories.

On Tuesday I found myself in a little coffee shop in Cartagena, Colombia with Latimpacto CEO, Carolina Suarez – a little hoarse and no doubt exhausted, but still on a high with the buzz of hosting a successful first conference, under way next door.

The event is a big deal for Latimpacto: so relieved were they when someone bought the first ticket a few months ago, Carolina told me, that she had in turn bought a gift for that person. It was a sentiment I heard repeatedly during the four-day event – gratitude for and recognition of those who had put their faith into the new network. The Robert Bosch Stiftung in Germany, Colombia’s Fundación Santo Domingo, co-founder Doug Miller: these and many more are proving that they believe in the long-term, indirect value of supporting venture philanthropy structures.

I heard very familiar concerns. Worries about impact-washing. Appeals to investors to take more risks. Reminders to prioritise those who are still overlooked: women, migrants, indigenous people

Carolina describes her organisation as a startup. As part of the venture philanthropy network that began with EVPA in Europe in 2004, it’s lucky to have predecessors with an apparently successful model to replicate. Latimpacto’s new deal-making platform, for example, has been modelled on similar initiatives from its sister organisations AVPN and AVPA. But it’s clear that the newest member of the family is forging its own path. Not only in its choice of name and in the distinct cultural flavour of its events, but also in its focus on the particular social and environmental challenges of the region, such as biodiversity loss and migration-linked inequality.

Even in this colourful, humid Caribbean backdrop, though, a world away from my usual workplace in London, I heard very familiar concerns. Worries about impact-washing. Appeals to investors to take more risks. Reminders to prioritise those who are still overlooked: women, migrants, indigenous people. 

Above all, I heard an immense desire to connect with others. I spoke to several people who had travelled from Europe or North America because their organisations are expanding or starting work in Colombia or Latin America. Within the far-flung and diverse continent, too, there’s a big appetite to better link up – with a big contingent attending from Brazil, a country that doesn’t always connect with its Spanish-speaking neighbours. Where will this week’s conversations lead to next? We’re excited to find out – and we’ll keep you posted.


News from elsewhere 

My colleagues have been busy this week reporting on more social enterprise and impact investing news from ScotlandJapan and elsewhere; plus they’ve been covering this week’s National Social Value Conference in the UK. And we explore a new scheme to get some 300 social enterprises ready for investment by powering up their impact data skills – with a learning curve for their accelerator, the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, too.


This week's top stories: 29 April 2022

'Disruptive party' calls for creativity and humility from LatAm impact investors – and to be prepared to lose money

Data-driven, deal-ready: partners aim high with impact management programme for 300 social ventures

Social Value Act 'tipping point' has been reached – Chris White


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