Social Capital Marketplace Bends Obama's Ear

Recently, Good Capitalist asked their readers  "what can the Obama administration do to encourage the growth of the social capital market" (Meredith Walters,  "Social Capital Marketplace Bends Obama's Ear").

Here are some of the ideas from readers:

  • Good Capitalist readers sent in a variety of ideas, from federal support for a community of entrepreneurs that could mentor and invest in each other (Marc Dangeard) to a legal framework for local-only stock offerings (Stanley Florek).  Other ideas included a Social Capital Exchange where students and volunteers work on local projects (Frank Dunn) and a green economic stimulus package that would build green energy infrastructure and provide microloans to green entrepreneurs (Thoi Pham). 
  • hosted a competition for ideas for change for Barack Obama.  A proposal to use bailout money to fund the development of infrastructure for social lending, or direct person-to-person lending, advanced to the second round with more than 8,600 votes.
  • B Lab, the certifier of B Corporations, officially proposed two ideas to the Obama transition team: (1) create a new corporate form legally accountable to all its stakeholders and (2) develop and promote standards for assessing corporate social and environmental performance, a prerequisite for tax incentives that could encourage investment in sustainable businesses.
  • The Social Investment Forum publicly called for Obama to seek socially responsible investment options for the employees in the $223 billion Federal Thrift Savings Plan and create an Office for Innovation in Corporate Social Responsibility.

"Ideas are out there, but will Obama listen?  Some B Lab representatives who met with Obama's transition team were "incredibly impressed by the thought the Administration is putting into how it can support the private sector in solving social and environmental problems."   And blogger Nathaniel Whittemore wrote a great analysis of Obama's official agenda items that relate to social enterprise.  Hillary Clinton, the new Secretary of State, mentioned support for microfinance as a focus of the Obama administration's Africa policy.  So there's reason to hope that some of these ideas will actually become reality, though in this case the relative health of the sector may actually work against it.  Squeaky wheels get the grease, and as the social capital market grows in size, sophistication, and complexity without government help, it may find itself a lower priority on the president's agenda than its crisis-ridden, mainstream counterpart."