London Social Impact Consulting ConferenceApril 1, 2017
Written by Andrew Kirk, Director of Global Operations.
On Friday the 17th of March, all five 180 Degrees branches in the UK joined forces to host their inaugural Social Impact Consulting Conference. The topic of the event was the effect of technology change on social enterprises, though over the course of the afternoon we were lucky enough to hear about many more of the most important trends in social enterprise today, from some of the very leaders who are at driving them.
The afternoon started in broad strokes, with Cliff Prior from Big Society Capital speaking about how the very idea of social enterprise is starting to change as the sector grows, pointing to the massive global increase in ‘profit with purpose’ enterprises, as well as the unique funding challenges and opportunities that come with them. Rupal Kantaria, a Social Impact Advisor from Oliver Wyman, followed up on this, giving us a great chance to see how large firms integrate social responsibility into their work, as well as how professional consulting firms engage with their pro bono clients.
As the speeches moved more towards the implementation side, our UK teams were able to line up three more great speakers from three of the world’s leading social enterprise advisory organisations. Aly-Khan Jamal, a Partner with Dalberg Global Development Advisors, gave an impassioned speech on deploying technology on the ground in the developing world, from mobile banking to disaster relief management and better supply chains for rural farmers. The last two external speakers, Kasia Stochniol from Acumen and Florian Rutsch from Ashoka, spoke about the challenges of measuring social impact (a topic that every 180 Degrees Consultant will be familiar with), as well as how technology is helping by enabling social enterprises to get near real-time feedback from their most important stakeholders, the people they aim to help. The final speaker of the afternoon was none other than Nat Ware, our very own CEO, who spoke about the history of 180 Degrees, but more importantly about the opportunities ahead, as we move forward into 2017, our biggest year yet.
The whole event was brilliantly organised by our 180 Degrees branches, who not only secured an incredible lineup of speakers but also a huge and enthusiastic audience to receive them (plus, a great function space in the London School of Economics student centre, replete with a huge, inexplicable disco ball above the stage). I think the power of the idea behind the conference was made clear by the number of students in the audience who had never heard of 180 Degrees before, all of whom were thrilled to learn that there was a way for them to get involved in the kind of work they were hearing about on stage. Hopefully a few new members for the London branches soon!
Of course, our branches do far more than just organise great events, and Friday’s conference came just as our UK branches were finishing their final projects 2016-2017 academic year and just as three of our five UK branches were holding elections for their new executive teams. For all the UK Consultants who won’t be returning to 180 Degrees next year, this conference is a suitable capstone to the incredible work they’ve performed. For those staying on it’s an inspiration, an ambitious start to what will no doubt be an outstanding year. And for all our branches around the world, it’s an impressive reminder of how much potential there is for our work, and how much we can achieve when we work together.