On March 20, 2019 selected Atlas Corps fellows were invited to attend The Social Investors Day which was convened by Raffa – Marcum’s Social Sector & Nonprofit Group in collaboration with CARE, the global humanitarian organization.

The event kicked off with a keynote address by Jean Case, the Chairman of the National Geographic Society and CEO of the Case Foundation. The keynote session was brief and crisp where Ms. Case talked about how her book, “Be Fearless” and how it reflects on her life experiences and career choices which she described as breakthrough experiences. She briefly talked about the philanthropy work which Case Foundation does with underprivileged and underrepresented communities around the world. Secondly, a principle she goes by and stressed upon was – “making failure matter”, also one of the five principles from her book. For me personally, this theme was especially relevant since words like lessons learned and failure stories are often used in the context of evaluation and learning studies in the social development projects. 

The signed copy of the book was a highlight!!!

Afterward the attendees broke into pitch rooms where each group heard three virtual presentations from three of the social enterprises running businesses in different parts of the world. Being an attendee, I also got an opportunity to evaluate the presentations as if I had $100,000 to invest in the ventures.

This session gave me the chance to interact with a select cohort of “Innovation Leaders” who facilitated the discussions and scoring. If I draw a naïve comparison here – the experience for me was like being on the show, “Shark Tank” where I was one of the Sharks! Aside from the experience, I got to learn firsthand some of the uber-cool social ventures that are promoting access to farming supplies, as well as lending support retail entrepreneurs in rural Bangladesh.

Each room voted to pick the top social venture for their group and the winners were announced at the Happy Hour party marking the end of the event.

I am so appreciative of Atlas making possible such opportunities for its fellows. It’s a smooth, fun adjustment into life in DC.