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Panel at SOCAP – Building the Impact Entrepreneur Movement.

This week, Agora staff are live at SOCAP11 in San Francisco. Today, Founder Ben Powell will be participating in a panel alongside Agora Entrepreneurs Tegu, CO2 Bambu, and Michelle Viegas, Operations Senior Associate at the Inter-American Development Bank. The panel, “Building the Impact Entrepreneur Movement: Perspectives from Top Early Stage Entrepreneurs in Central America”, will be live at 1:45PM PDT.

We’ll be live-blogging the panel, so stay tuned for updates! If you want to watch the panel live, tune in to the SOCAP livestream.


Today’s 90-minute panel will be focused on the following: “Building a more sustainable capitalist economy will require a new breed of sophisticated entrepreneurs committed to creating shared value through their business. In Central America, the barriers to entrepreneurship are especially challenging.Come hear from entrepreneurs operating in some of the world’s poorest communities and solving some of the most intractable problems though market-based strategies.”

Will you join us at 1:45PM PDT?


Half an hour until the panel goes live at #socap11! Will you join us?


At SOCAP, Steve Wright (@conches) says collaboration requires intelligence and bravery, and zero collaboration increases vulnerability.


Root Cause reports that the Rockefeller Foundation is making 0K in grants to help develop social impact bonds in the US.


Duke’s Center for the Advancement of Social Enterprise (CASE) has announced the launch of CASE i3, the Initiative for Impact Investing. #socap


OH at #socap11: “Sometimes social change is putting on a table cloth, getting an extension cord, giving directions or buying supplies — all with a smile.” via @alyeasandovar


@michael_j_jones on Twitter is sharing live from the Agora panel. He tweets: “discovering tools for entrepreneurship in central america at #socap11″


At #socap11, entrepreneurs sharing their stories of how they started. We’ll hear from Agora’s Ben, and entrepreneurs from Tegu, CO2 Bambu, Kiej de los Bosques,  all while Michelle Viegas from IDB moderates.


@joannesprague — Panelists are Ben from Agora, Will from Tegu, Ben from CO2 Bambu, Miara from Kiej de los Bosques


Agora’s summer volunteer joannesprague is helping out at #socap11.


Happening on other panels — Amazon Watch speaking on environmental issues and what their organization does.


How important is building visibility to creating impact and accelerating impact entrepreneurship growth? #socap11


Maria from Kiej de los Bosques discusses at #socap11, being a biologist/ecologist and rural women in Guatemala stating need for income. Maria is helping the supply chain, exporting their goods in order to receive income.


Founder Ben Powell tells about lowering transaction costs, finding best entrepreneurs, having great biz model, social environmental impact. #socap11


Ben continues, “The entrepreneur and the team is #1 — they need access to human, social, financial capital.” #socap11


Tegu’s Will: 2/3 of Honduran landscape covered in wood, had an idea — take raw material and export. Vision: build the world’s most innovative toy company, focused on quality. #socap11


Will from Tegu continues: Added magnets to wood to reinvent the wooden block. Developing craftsmen, wanting to compete with Euro toys. Looking to out-design the competition.


@SOCAPmarkets livestream is on another panel, but the Agora staff is liveblogging from #Nicaragua via email updates. #socap11


OH at #socap11 about finding champians for the cause: “People are moved by story … We are global — now we can organize across the world.”


Like what you hear on our panel at #socap11? Connect via Twitter: @BenAgora, @Tegu, @CO2Bambu


Maria of Kiej de los Bosques shares how they measure impact: Income that’s generated, education and malnutrition indicators.


CO2 Bambu, on the other hand, measures: # of houses that have been built of wood, # of jobs in 85% unemployment region in #Nicaragua.


Will of Tegu shares at #socap11 measurement via: harvested wood for forest, work with plantation species, dedicating portion of cost to reforestation, days of school attended, and jobs created. Tegu has planted 20,000 trees thus far.


Positive stories so important to being able to create the impact necessary — through funding.


Michelle from IDB asks: “How do you source talent for employees in poor, less educated populations?”
Ben of CO2 Bambu: “The elders in the community refer the best in the community that are more reliable, will show up for work, etc. With women, bamboo is light-weight, so we wanted to provide jobs for them, but the community reaction was that women were spending too much time with men colleagues.”
Will of Tegu: “Finding talent is a problem. Management, local leadership wil be needed when turned over to local populations. To compete with Denmark, we need very high quality, for example.”


At Agora @socap11 panel, Michelle from IDB asks about measuring success:

Maria of Kiej: Sales and how many women are brought into the supply chain. Growing 100% over 3 years, now ready for investors.

Ben: Want to reach profitability by end of 2011. When co2 is accepted as a partner for post-disaster housing, sought by NGOs.

Will: Have raised .5 million from commercial investors. Success= profit. Metric- biz is self-funded.

Ben from Agora: Collectively trying to raise 5 million USD. Longer term, create a brand, entrepreneurs learn about Agora and the best ones come and are part of Accelerator program, then system change. Finally, earning significant revenue to be more self-sustaining.


Agora’s Ben shares at #socap11 that he wants to change perceptions in Latin America to slowly convince local investors by showing a profitable, successful business. Social impact isn’t a sign of weakness.


Agora’s Ben shares: “We provide social and human capital, not directly financially as there are high transaction costs.” #socap11


Agora entrepreneurs help each other through the diverse community. Aida that started with microfinance now is helping Tegu connect with local community, building loyalty.


Discussing investment-side support from institutions & organizations, entrepreneurs need long term assistance. #socap11


Investment/support from big brands, like IDB, gives investors confidence. #socap11


Maria of Kiej de los Bosques chose business over non-profit because: “To have sustainable prosperity, need access to markets.” #socap11


@Tegu’s Will backs her up, saying: “Greatest way to affect GDP is through markets, being economically viable, self-sustaining.” #socap11


Thanks to @dhamlam for the assistance for this live-blog! Could not have pulled it off without you.


Closing comments from panelists at #socap11:
Tegu’s Will: “Investors , relax requirements and standards.”
CO2 Bambu’s Ben on risk: “Look at people and team when considering deal. ‘With risk comes opportunity.’ Evaluate team and management and have a group like Agora for support to vet businesses.”
Kiej’s Maria: “Investments in Central America go a long way, pairing knowledge w organizations that know how to create and sustain change will be the way of the future.”


  1. @AgoraPrtnrships @BenAgora @Tegu @CO2Bambu SALUDOS

  2. @AgoraPrtnrships @BenAgora @Tegu @CO2Bambu You guys are doing great. Keep the momentum going. #socap11

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