Working Together to Empower Change: Insights from the AVPN Global Conference 2023 - SecondMuse

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    Our insights and highlights from the AVPN Global Conference 2023.

    Last week, we had the pleasure of participating in multiple sessions at the AVPN (Asia Venture Philanthropy Network) Global Conference 2023, a gathering that brought together funders and founders across sectors working towards positively impacting Asia. At the conference, we connected with a diverse range of individuals in the global social investment community—from Asian female philanthropists creating gender-transformative funds, to the young Inspir8 entrepreneurs solving healthcare challenges at the community level, to the ecosystem thinkers—and we all recognized that siloed, traditional philanthropy won’t get us where we need to go.

    At the 3-day event, it was clear there was a growing consensus that collective funding, blended finance, and trust-based philanthropy are increasingly powerful ways to make a larger impact and achieve financially sustainable, systems-level change. These approaches will allow donors to combine their effort and create a more significant impact, capital to be more accessible for impactful initiatives, and local organizations to have the agency in funding allocation for optimal efficiency.

    We had an engaging conversation during our panel session on Leveraging Nature-based Solutions to Address Asia’s Climate Crisis with Alexander Hanrath from Lestari Capital, Patricia Chu from Mana Impact, and Justin Chang from UBS Optimus Foundation. Moderated by Simon Baldwin, our Global Head of Circularity, the session explored the concept of a nature-positive economy and discussed the importance of financial mechanisms and programs, replication of successful initiatives, and leveraging nature-based solutions to address environmental issues. Valuable ideas and perspectives were exchanged, reminding us of nature’s critical role in achieving sustainable development goals.

    Our fireside chat on Fostering Women’s Economic Advancement in Asia: Supporting the Growth of Gender-Inclusive Small and Micro Businesses involved a captivating dialogue between Angela Noronha, our Business Development Director, Graham McMillan from Visa Foundation, and Aparajita Agrawal from Value For Women. The discussion delved into the importance of language as a powerful tool to invite more allies in or keep people out. But more importantly, how we work together in ways everyone can understand to get things done.

    The fireside chat also highlighted the need for participatory design, recognizing that women are not victims waiting to be rescued, but they are their own agents of change. Angela emphasized the need to remove barriers that prevent women from creating businesses and solving problems.

    “We should stop acting surprised when women succeed because it is the most normal thing in the world for them to do,” said Angela.

    On the final morning of the conference, we were thrilled to see the enthusiasm for a breakfast session. Drawing over 30 participants, we engaged in fruitful conversations on the barriers and opportunities for getting capital into nature-based solutions. We learned there is a strong need to create innovative financial tools to bridge the gap between available capital and smaller-scale solutions and to include a participatory approach in the process of building them. Additionally, there was recognition of the potential for collective infrastructure and services to support the growth of the Nature Based Solutions market. 

    Our learnings from the session will undoubtedly serve the upcoming design of the Future Economy Lab in Asia, with the goal of developing two to three financial mechanisms that would advance solutions to climate change while promoting gender equity and putting MSMEs (Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises) at the center.

    The conference provided valuable insights and lessons on how to work together to achieve sustainable change and we were deeply inspired by the connections we forged at the event. Moving ahead, we look forward to working collaboratively with more impact-driven stakeholders to build a more equitable and regenerative future, and we’re excited to continue supporting sustainable innovations and impactful investments in the Asia Pacific.

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