Investing in Knowledge: Karen’s Takeaways from the Summer

A picture I took at the SOCAP/Europe conference in June

I am sincerely grateful to have spent these past four months supporting the work at Smart Cities Advisors.  Lenora introduced me to the space of social enterprise and impact investing – a movement aligning profit with purpose, and directing market mechanisms toward social impact.  What I take away from this internship are invaluable experiences working in the social enterprise sector and understanding the power of social networks, knowledge platforms, cross-sector partnerships, and patient capital for urban regeneration projects.  I will leave with several insights to share:

  • Collaboration is the hallmark of social enterprise.  Social ventures depend on networks and partnerships in the public, private, and social sectors to effect lasting impact.  This is especially true for community regeneration projects, where the approach must be holistic and thus involve all stakeholders.
  • The potential for economic development and urban regeneration is already there.  It just needs the right support structure — capacity building, leadership development, and knowledge sharing of best practices.  To meet that need, we should leverage technological applications and social media for the sake of efficiency and driving resources to results.
  • Developing smart cities is so much more than just constructing affordable housing.  It involves building lasting and inclusive communities with employment opportunities, community spaces, infrastructure, social services, and quality schools.  The most sustainable communities are those supported with systemic design and patient capital.
  • Community participation transforms the way we solve social and environmental challenges in urban living.   Increased knowledge access and network partnerships are inspiring the rise of social entrepreneurs within developing country cities to bypass inefficiencies and create local solutions.
  • Investing in urban regeneration projects comes with the expectation that results will be delivered, and as such social enterprises are ultimately held accountable for delivering measureable social and financial returns.  Impact investing, which differs from philanthropic giving, thus encourages projects that are both value-generating and financially sustainable.

Taking into account all these points, it is clear how Smart Cities Advisors is serving a critical role in facilitating the work of social enterprises in urban development projects.

After my internship at Smart Cities Advisors, and attendance at the SOCAP/Europe conference, I feel confidently plugged in to this network of inspirational social entrepreneurs and impact investors working with the same vision and purpose.   I leave inspired and committed to the social capital space, and may even start my own venture not too far down the road – a possibility I would never have imagined only four months ago.  Thank you, Lenora, for such an engaging and inspirational summer!

How To Find Us

Smart Cities Advisors, LLC
PO Box 3360
New York, NY 10008
Phone: 1-347-979-7854