Good Return, a convenor of Frontier Brokers network, reflect on Frontier Brokers workshop at AVPN Bali Summit in February 2020. The world is a very different place from our last blog update. We sincerely hope you are staying safe and healthy as the world collectively navigates these unprecedented and tumultuous times.
While the full impact of COVID-19 cannot be fully comprehended yet, it is clear that it will disproportionately affect vulnerable populations around the world. Although a global pandemic, its lasting effects will be most acutely felt by those without access to established healthcare or welfare systems, those without financial security to guard against these types of shocks and those already experiencing the hardships of poverty. For Frontier Brokers, this has reaffirmed the importance of impact investing to support social entrepreneurs in innovating the ways we address inequality and scaling their solutions.
We are taking this moment, as we review our projects’ COVID-19 resilience and transition to new working conditions, to also reflect on our workshop at the AVPN Southeast Asia Summit. The half-day workshop was held in early February when AVPN brought together actors from across the impact investing, social entrepreneurship and venture philanthropy sectors for a 3-day summit in Bali, Indonesia. Our workshop explored the role of intermediaries such as brokers in innovating useful mechanisms to connect investment capital to social enterprises, particularly for gender lens investing. We heard from Frontier Brokers representatives and, through deep-dive roundtables, offered participants the opportunity to both learn from and contribute to our brokering approaches. Moonshot Global and Living Collaborations, our MEL partners for Frontier Brokers, also presented gender lens investing literature review findings that stimulated lively Q&A.
Our key reflection from the workshop is the power of collaboration, especially across a variety of stakeholders. Our workshop included 72 people from over 50 organisations representing diverse organisations from government, NGOs, investors, entrepreneurs/enterprises and more. It was invaluable to hear from such a range of perspectives and to see how we can learn from each other’s experiences. The excitement and nuanced discussions demonstrate how we can all complement each other’s work and leverage connections for a more impactful social entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Another take-away from the Frontier Brokers workshop is the importance of remaining adaptive throughout the project cycle. It was great to see how receptive to suggestions the Brokers and workshop participants were, as we all prioritise testing and evaluating our models for their improvement. We also benefited from the expertise of workshop participants with a wide range of Southeast Asian country exposures to explore questions on the scalability of our brokering models. The region is incredibly diverse (for example differences in requirements for enterprise registration, availability of government schemes such as loan guarantees, the strength of existing local entrepreneurship ecosystems and more), which highlights the need for an adaptive approach, sensitive to local contexts. The coming months will only further reveal the need for this adaptiveness.
A final reflection on our workshop is that it provided a taster on integrating technology for collaborating remotely and in large groups. Using Slido and having some Frontier Brokers members give presentations and participate in roundtable discussions over Zoom provided some great learnings on using technology to still fulfil collaborative workshop objectives! We encourage everyone to keep up their resourcefulness in finding solutions for collaboration under social distancing measures.
We would like to thank AVPN for bringing us together for such a meaningful and engaging summit on impact investing and social entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia. Of course, the workshop would not have been valuable without the amazing participation on the day. Thank you to all the participants who shared their insights and expertise! We hope to keep communicating through some exciting online forums — watch this space!