Impact InvestingRacial Equity

From Haiti and Mexico to SOCAP23: WKKF partners make the case for impact investing in rural entrepreneurs


This post is also available in: Español (Spanish) Kreyòl (Haitian Creole)

Every year, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation partners with SOCAP Global, whose platform convenes social entrepreneurs, investors, and foundation and nonprofit leaders to strengthen the practice of impact investing for a more equitable economy. Founded in 2008, SOCAP draws over 5,000 attendees to its annual flagship event. Over the years, SOCAP has witnessed an increase in both the number of impact investors and the flow of capital. Several WKKF staff were proud to join SOCAP23, along with grantees and partners, and to spur conversations on racial equity and inclusivity through participation, including two panels, a workshop, and a social entrepreneur pitch session. One WKKF staffer, Susie Lee, a PRI officer on the Mission Driven Investments team, has attended all 16 SOCAPs and was interviewed by the organization this year.

SOCAP23 drew more non-US WKKF grantees and partners than in any other year, with 20 individuals from Haiti and Mexico flying to San Francisco to participate. Two were panelists, and 10 presented their ventures in a pitch session. 

In a panel titled Opportunities & Mechanisms for Impact-First Investment in Haiti & Mexico’s Rural Communities: An Equity Imperative, WKKF Program Officers Dana François and Sebastian Frías joined partners Patrick Dessources (CASELI) and Juana López Diaz (Juxta Nation) in a conversation about their work, the challenges, opportunities, the scale, depth and the meaning of locally led impact in rural Haitian and Mexican communities. An ensuing workshop involved roundtable discussions about implementing diversified philanthropy and innovative finance strategies to unleash catalytic capital in similar frontier markets. 

“We have many challenges [working in Haiti], but I would say that we, the local community and the local organization, we are driven by challenges because in every challenge we see an opportunity.”

Patrick Dessources, executive director, Centre d’Appui et de Services aux Entreprises Locales et Internationales (CASELI)

Juana López Díaz and Patrick Dessources.

“I would like to say, as an entrepreneur and an Indigenous woman, that investors interested in providing us with financing should know we don’t only think about work, work, work. We have our own history, our family, our society… and I think that if you really want to have a social impact, it is about just that…. We have our own rhythm of work, and we aren’t machines.”

Juana López Diaz, Entrepreneur, Juxta Nation

Then, in a pitch session titled Social Impact Entrepreneurs from Haiti and Mexico, Dessources, López Díaz and others pitched 10 social ventures, from expanding markets for artisans in Mexico and Haiti, tobringing solar power to Haitian communities, to support the work of smallholder farmers to strengthen food systems, and much more. You can check out thumbnail bios of the entrepreneurs here.

“We think what makes [these entrepreneurs] unique is they come from community, they’re leading initiatives from community, and they’re representing really the opportunities and how innovation can face challenges in rural contexts.”

Sebastian Frías, Program Officer, WKKF

Dana François and Sebastian Frías.

“We have first-hand evidence that those entrepreneurs are at the forefront of catalytic change in rural communities.”

Dana François, Program Officer, WKKF

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