In the Spotlight: Kevin Jones

Kevin Jones, Founder and Convener of SOCAP, tells us why he supports GenderAvenger. SOCAP is an annual event series that connects leading global innovators – investors, foundations, institutions and social entrepreneurs – to build a market where money and meaning come together. In 2013, SOCAP attracted over 1,800 attendees. Tweet about Kevin and SOCAP using @SOCAPmarkets and, of course, #genderavenger.

How did you hear about GenderAvenger?

I heard about GenderAvenger from Gina Glantz. When I became aware, through meeting Gina and hearing her idea, that women were not getting their voices heard at events on stage, I decided that would not be true at our event. So we made sure there were women on every panel throughout the 110 sessions. You just have to make a decision, and stick to it, though it might seem odd or strange at first, including women becomes the new normal. 

Why did its goals appeal to you?

It bugs me when women are not included on panels at events; it is not fair and limits the point of view expressed. In early stage social enterprises, my professional area, women-led companies are outperforming male-led companies by 15% but they are 40% less likely to get funded. That means impact investment funds are making less money because there is some kind of unreasonable bias in the selection process for who gets investment.

What did you decide to do? 

Good Capital instituted a 10% automatic upgrade on the due diligence score of any enterprise that is led by a female CEO. That means men have to outperform by 10% to get the same chance to get funding as a women. It's a decision with a clear goal of increasing financial performance across a portfolio of companies. Justice is a positive externality if you design the market correctly. We also made it a rule that no panel at SOCAP could have all men; we just made people go back and find a woman who could speak to the issue. There is always one, but maybe she was not their first instinctive choice, or they had done less business with her.

Why do you think making sure women are part of the SOCAP dialog is important; did you notice any effect on the conference as a result or your action?  

We think working consciously on diversity is important; who gets invited to speak is who is recognized, and we need to recognize the talent and voice of everybody, not just the guys. I think it changed the overall tone of the conference; every moderator, and we have 110 plus sessions, knew it was the rule. I think last year's conference had more energy because it was more inclusive. People noticed something extra.

Co-founder & Convener, Social Capital Markets

Kevin Jones creates information businesses inside emerging markets. He believes that markets emerge in conversation, as people try to explain and understand value. But this market is not like others he’s been in, and that’s what makes it more interesting and more important. The social capital market adds the dimension of impact, what your money actually does in the world before it comes back to you as a gain or loss, to the traditional risk and reward investment equation. “Looking at impact is what has enabled SOCAP to be at the vital intersection of money and meaning,” Kevin said.

Besides SOCAP, Kevin is founder of Good Capital, a venture capital firm that invests in social enterprises. He is also part of the team that has launched the first U.S. node of the Impact Hub, a network of more than a dozen workspaces for social entrepreneurs in cities across the world from Cairo to London. They now operate Impact Hubs in San Francisco, Manhattan, DC, and Philadelphia and have invested in hubs in LA, Boulder, Seattle, and Oakland.

His previous six businesses all achieved market dominance before he left or sold them. As a journalist, he has been a columnist for Forbes and Business 2.0 magazines. Early in his career as a journalist his reporting sent a sheriff to prison on 53 counts of fraud. He has been on the boards of Social Enterprise Alliance, the association of non-profit social enterprises, and Social Venture Partners International, a network of engaged philanthropy circles. Kevin also led a malaria project in Zwaziland and Mozambique, working with Jeff Sachs of The Earth Institute at Columbia University. Finally, during his 20-year business career in Mississippi he was heavily involved in public school advocacy. He twitters @kevindoylejones.

Elan MorganComment