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Posts Tagged ‘2012 Keynotes’

Former Chairman of SKS Microfinance Vikram Akula Shares Lessons Learned


Vikram Akula, the former Chairman of SKS Microfinance, broke his silence today about the mistakes he made in his social venture, in a speech at the Social Enterprise Conference at Harvard.

Akula acknowledged the legitimacy of the criticism he had received from Mohammad Yunus, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor and Founder of Grameen Bank, who had long taken issue with SKS’s deployment of private capital in microfinance and its profit orientation.

“Professor Yunus was right” Akula said tonight, amidst a room of 500 attendees at the Conference.  “Bringing private capital into social enterprise was much harder than I anticipated.”

Recent press reports indicated SKS Microfinance agents may have used coercive loan recovery practices, departing from the traditional values-based model of social enterprise. Other reports have emerged that recipients of the loans were entering into potentially un-repayable debt. Akula stepped down from SKS Microfinance in November.

Akula also stated tonight that he had focused on scaling SkS’ model and had not fully anticipated the potential downside of accessing the public market for social enterprise.

At the end of his speech, Akula expressed hope that future social entrepreneurs would learn from his experiences. “The mistakes I’ve made can help the rest of you” said Akula.

About The Social Enterprise Conference

The Social Enterprise Conference is the leading annual symposium that advances the practice and study of social entrepreneurship. In its 13th year, the gathering of more than 1,500 participants has established an impressive track-record for offering inspiring speakers, engaging workshops, illuminating panels, and door-opening networking. Organized by students from the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, the conference builds on topical knowledge developed in the field, through academic study, and at similar events throughout the year. This year’s theme, “Innovation, Inclusion, Impact,” asks participants to find new ways to address social problems in a way that makes a positive difference for all stakeholders.

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Announcing Keynote Speaker Judith Rodin!


Another trailblazer in the social innovation space, Judith Rodin, President of The Rockefeller Foundation, was frequently quoted in 2011 about impact investing.  Aligned with the mission of fellow keynote, David Blood, she has been promoting the importance of investing with consideration to the double bottom line. Since taking the lead at Rockefeller in 2005, Rodin has re-shaped and honed the foundation’s strategy. The focus of its efforts are now centered on unique solutions to basic survival needs (water, food, housing), health care, climate change, accelerating urbanization, and strengthening social and economic security. Rodin pointed to the success of franchised education companies in India as a prime example of such innovative ideas that drive essential delivery methods. Proven by a clear commitment to the reconstruction of New Orleans, she has also oriented the foundation’s mission toward local involvement initiatives. To track that progress, Rodin points to the importance of metrics for measuring progress at the double bottom line, such as the Global Impact Investing Rating System (GIIRS).

As if all the hype surrounding impact investing wasn’t enough, Rodin was included in the World’s Most Influential Women list by both Crain’s New York Business and Forbes magazine, among numerous other “mover and shaker” rankings.  For more information about Judith Rodin and our other 2012 keynote speakers, check out our Keynote page!

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Announcing Our 2nd Keynote Speaker: David Blood


Keynote David Blood, a leading impact investor and head of Generation Investment Management, promotes his impact investing techniques and then backs it up with a proven track-record and industry support.

Just last week Blood co-authored “A Manifesto for Sustainable Capitalism,” which appeared in the Wall Street Journal on December 14th.  In that article, he along with his business partner, Al Gore, advocate the benefits of long-term investing strategies versus short-term trading for purposes of arbitraging profit. Blood asserts that a corporation’s sustainable disposition actually enhances profitability for the extended outlook, and he looks to those companies to include in Generation’s portfolio. He touts the power of Environmental, Social, and Governance (“ESG”) ESG Metrics to target high-potential performers. The manifesto articulates 5 actions steps for companies to adopt a more sustainable course, including reforms to executive compensation and equity instruments structures to reward those who maintain their positions. The implementation of these action steps combined with positive performance as reflected by ESG will attract Blood and other impact investors to consider an equity position. One such company is Tigo Energy, a start-up dealing in solar panel technology. Tigo announced in April 2011 that it had earned a $10 million equity investment by Blood and Gore’s firm.

In October, Britain’s Financial News reported on Generation Investment Management’s proven strategy, earning 56% increase in profits at the end of December 2010 to about $75 million, and holding roughly $7.02 billion under management, all generated by a 21-person team from 16 different countries.  Theirry Lombard, a prominent Swiss banker and Generation Investment Management partner, praised Blood and Gore’s work, embracing the fourth year of partnership.  For more information about David Blood and our other 2012 keynote speakers, check out our 2012 Keynote page!

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Announcing Our First Keynote Speaker: Dr. Larry Brilliant


Dr. Larry Brilliant, who holds many titles, including founder/director of multiple philanthropic endeavors, public health expert, leading epidemiologist, among others, added “interview subject” and “credited film contributor” to that list this past year. He was recently a participant in a major social media project that interviewed 47 leading social entrepreneurs. Sharing his dedication to and interest in social innovation and change, Dr. Brilliant was a featured contributor to Skoll’s global initiative,, an effort of Jeff Skoll’s entertainment company to elevate the visibility of inspiring change makers. The interviews, including Brilliant’s, can be viewed on Skoll’s website.

2011 also saw the release of the Matt Damon, thriller, Contagion, to which Dr. Brilliant was an expert advisor to make the story of disease threat as close to reality as possible. And thanks to Dr. Brilliant, more people will be able to actually see his work. His efforts as the founder of Seva Foundation continue. As a member of World Health Organization’sVISION 2020: The Right to Sight” initiative to eradicate avoidable blindness by 2020, Seva Foundation has helped some 3 million people to see again.  For more information about Dr. Brilliant, check out our 2012 Keynote page!