Innovations in development happen where traditional markets fail. The open discussion that followed the presentation I made on Monday to nearly 100 colleagues inside and outside the World Bank Group spurred the first of what I hope are many conversations on the role the World Bank Group and others can play in supporting social entrepreneurs in the developing world.
I argued in the panel, as I did in the summer issue of Development Outreach, that private actors are stepping up to provide goods when there is market or public failure. That there is a role for social investors, whether they are impact-first or finance-first investors, to provide early stage and mezzanine finance and technical assistance for growth ready social enterprises. The World Bank Group is particularly well positioned to help those social enterprises that are focused on providing public goods and scaling models that may not be commercially viable in the near-term. That is where Development Marketplace was a pioneer more than 10 years ago and today we need to find ways to leverage the Development Marketplace brand to encourage financial, impact, and philanthropic investors to enter this space and support the replication or expansion of those business models that are able to meet the needs of the poor at scale.
I was joined by two great panelists. Sujata Lamba talked about how the IFC has invested $3.9B in the Bottom of the Pyramid projects over several years, and Steve Rasmussen discussed how CGAP has continuously reinvented itself in order to stay relevant and leverage innovations such as mobile banking to expand financial access for the poor.
I hope that events like this are the beginning of a consultative process where we can get feedback, comments and thoughts from a variety of social enterprise stakeholders as we move ahead with the Next Generation Development Marketplace. After all, innovation is an iterative process and cannot happen in a vacuum. You'll be hearing more from us about this, but we welcome your thoughts, questions, and comments.