SOCAP2014 (SunFarmer goes to San Francisco)

Sometimes, the best inspiration for your own work comes from taking a step away to see what other people are doing. Earlier this month, I flew out to California for my first ever SOCAP conference. Though I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, the concept behind the conference was enough to get me excited: SOCAP – the Social Capital Markets Conference - is all about the intersections of social good and business. This intersection is exactly what attracted me to SunFarmer, and the roster of speakers and attendees included a few of my social enterprise heroes. (…If that makes me a nerd, than so be it.)

I spent the first two days of the week with 120 other social entrepreneurs from around the world as part of the Social Impact Accelerator. We work-shopped our “elevator pitches,” talked about scaling impact, shared advice on evaluations metrics, and came away inspired by the creativity and drive in the group.

The entire week featured expert panels and keynote speakers, but the highlight was easily the opportunity to connect with so many amazing people and organizations. I was happy to put faces to the names of people I’ve been collaborating with by phone or email, like Alejandra at Embrace, Justin at the Sierra Club, and Mark at Possible.

Meeting new people from similar social enterprises brought out fascinating conversations and brainstorm sessions with people like Florin from Arbutus, which makes a brilliant drill cover to convert inexpensive construction drills into surgical drills for resource-poor or crisis settings, and Vrunda from the Fogarty Institute, which is promoting a device to stop postpartum hemorrhage.

These conversations helped me to hone our own messaging, and articulate an even broader vision for SunFarmer. We know that we are providing a much better energy alternative for hospitals and health clinics in Nepal. But electricity opens the door to so much more, and by establishing strong relationships with our customers, we can facilitate their connections to organizations like Embrace, Arbutus, and Fogarty. Ultimately, we will use reliable, affordable energy to unlock the capacity of these health facilities to deliver the world-class care their patients deserve.