This blog has led to action - make sure to visit the

Friday, October 31, 2008

VentureBeat talking about Social Capital - the word is getting out

Chris Morrison in VentrureBeat just published a post asking "Will Social Capital be the next big industry to emerge?"

I believe that the answer is Yes, but there is a need to clarify how we can go about it:

Going back to Blended Capital as discussed in the post, there is one big issue that has not been resolved yet is what is it exactly? While everybody understand at a high level the concept, or what some other people call double or triple bottom line, it is very hard from the investor prospective to figure out what you can expect from it. You know you will get less return, but how much and how do you figure out good deals and bad deals? There is an issue of estimation and measurement of success that still needs to be resolved.

One way to deal with this is what we are doing with Entrepreneur Commons (, using debt instead of equity. Because equity creates tension between the investor and the entrepreneur, for example by forcing the issue of exit: the investor needs his money back at some point, but who do you sell too, and should you really? (the Ben& Jerry things)
With debt, everything becomes a lot easier: you know exactly when you will get your money back and how much you will get, and you can benchmark this against the market to decide whether you are comfortable with a given rate for a given "mission".

In addition to clarifying the issue, debt is a good thing because we have historical data on what can be done. Microfinance is for a big part about helping entrepreneurs in developing countries. This is debt to finance small businesses.
And "Social Capital" in the US can be done the same way, with the difference that you need more than a few dollars to help an entrepreneur here. And the good news here is that you do not need huge amounts of money in the US either: according to Inc Magazine, and looking at their Top 5000 fastest growing companies, the average capital to get started for companies in the list is $25K, and if you look at their top 500 it is $75K.
The default rates from Grammen Bank (microfinance) are 1 to 5%, so very manageable, and there is no reason why we could not do as good in developped countries.

So there is an opportunity to make a big impact, and I am convinced that Social Capital is the next big thing because we have no other choice if we want to world to become a better place...

Originally posted as a comment by mdangear on VentureBeat using Disqus.