Today—October 17—is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, designated in 1993 by the United Nations General Assembly to “promote awareness of the need to eradicate poverty and destitution in all countries.” According to the UN website, the theme this year is “working together out of poverty.”
Working together to tackle poverty issues is just what is going on this week at the Opportunity Collaboration, which is where I am today. About 300 social entrepreneurs, nonprofit executives, foundation leaders, and social impact investors converged last night in the tropical town of Ixtapa, Mexico, for a full four days of networking, collaborating, and strategizing on global poverty issues. Jonathan Lewis founded this unusual gathering three years ago to take place annually the week of World Poverty Eradication Day. (Lewis, who is the founder and board chair of Microcredit Enterprises, also writes for SSIR.)
One of the unusual aspects of this gathering is the high ratio of funders to social entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders, which OC CEO Topher Wilkins estimates to be 1 to 3. Another is the generosity of Ron Cordes, cofounder of the Cordes Family Foundation, who funds the Cordes Fellowship. This year a record 63 Cordes Fellows, representing 33 countries, were selected. The purpose of the fellowship program is to (a) open doors, minds and networks for emerging social entrepreneurs and nonprofit executives (b) enrich the Opportunity Collaboration with new, emerging leaders and (c) infuse the collaborative discussions with a diversity of perspectives.
In casual conversations yesterday evening, again and again attendees who attended previous years told me about partnerships that had happened because of the OC. Funders found ventures to support or invest in, and social enterprises were able to find new funders and partners. Over the coming week, I plan to blog about social enterprises I learn about here and about funders’ thinking on how to increase their impact on global poverty alleviation.