A New York visit filled with impact, culture and new ideas
New York is as we know, the city that never sleeps. We experienced this first-hand when we visited in May. The purpose of the trip was our collaboration with Seeds of Peace and the GATHER Fellowship but ended up including visits to impact investment firms, impact focused tech companies, a dancing NGO, and a Gala dinner with Former US Vice President Joe Biden.
Let’s start with the GATHER Fellowship, which we are running together with the established non-profit Seeds of Peace. After the launch in Stockholm in March, the programme is now reaching half time and it’s been great to follow the journeys of the Fellows. During the week in New York, they had a busy schedule with coaching sessions and some also participated in panels during a Seeds of Peace event arranged at Facebook’s Manhattan office. Together with venture capitalists, journalists, corporates and NGO representatives, they discussed topics like journalism in conflict areas, how business and social entrepreneurship can support the rebuilding process post conflict and how individuals can make a change in the most difficult circumstances.
Building stars all over
In between Seeds of Peace events, parts of our team and Board, also took the opportunity to visit other interesting organisations and companies. We saw first-hand how dance, music and culture can bring inclusion to rough neighbourhoods through the impactful All Stars Project. A key take-away from that visit was how they’ve developed close partnerships with bigger corporates under the umbrella of internships. The rationale? If you can stand on stage performing, you can perform in the corporate world. It’s been a great set of alternative funding to traditional fundraising for the organisation. You can read more about it here.
From eBay to Tesla and Mars
We also visited the highly regarded Capricorn Investment Group, who manages the investment portfolio of Jeff Skoll and his organisations. As early investors in Tesla and Space X, they are pioneer investors. It became clear at the meeting that they are living their belief that values-based, sustainable investment practices can enhance return rates. From what was supposed to be a short meeting we ended up discussing a range of issues, solutions and challenges for the world and where social entrepreneurship can play a part.
1000 people strong Gala and a Swedish backed start-up
Now it’s time to mention the big event – the Gala that celebrated the 25th anniversary of Seeds of Peace with Joe Biden as keynote speaker and a crowd of 1,000 people. It was a huge success and a showcase in how to arrange a classic fundraising event. A favourite moment of the evening was when selected “Seeds” (participants of Seeds of Peace’s core programmes) stood up to tell their stories. How and why the work of the organisation is important. It was truly special and we could write much more here, but for the sake of keeping the text shorter, we suggest you watch the short video of the evening.
The trip didn’t finish with the Gala though. The next day we went to see a Swedish backed (through Kinnevik Group) start-up called Betterment. It uses technology to make financial services affordable for more people. So if you don’t have the knowledge, time or interest to manage your own portfolio or if you don’t have the money to pay a personal financial advisor, Betterment offers a solution. The company is growing rapidly and its service is especially interesting in a market like the US where income discrepancies are high. We found it appealing to see the financial market starting to move towards a different target market than usual.
To finish where we started, we certainly felt that New York is a city that never sleeps and it was fascinating to see how some players in the city challenges the sector where they operate, be it within the NGO sector, corporate or in impact investment.
Photo credit: Amanda Gentile and Natural Expressions NY