Recently, a longtime Pymwymic investor challenged us to use the 2016 conference to ‘pop the impact bubble.’ Granted, in our work it is possible to become conditioned to optimism, because we experience it daily: we see more families quietly stepping forward to put capital to work; more business models are being started by more mature entrepreneurs with greater ambitions for scale; there’s a rolling rumble of breakthrough global agreements reached; and multiple indicators of institutions and corporates becoming conscious of their responsibility and impact.
But ours is an era of dichotomy. “Never has there been more wealth… or more worry,” as one member encapsulated. Whole nations are being displaced; there is increased climate instability; we’re in an unknown zero-interest economy, scrabbling for a new model in a no-growth world. We here also watch the news. We see the political hairstyles. We also have worry… and sometimes incredulity. And still, is this high winds and seas, our rudder is optimism.
But a gauntlet thrown is a challenge accepted, and so we said yes to the investor who asked us to ‘pop the impact bubble.’ This year, at our annual gathering, we prepared a cynic’s view of the Sustainable Development Goals. We asked a seasoned, successful VC to challenge the preciousness of the word impact, and outline the barriers the label ‘impact’ creates to market. Rather than ignoring the mire of Europe’s refugee crisis, we choose to invite a recent Syrian refugee as our keynote speaker. We challenged, and asked people to participate with their own expertise and insight. And found that Pymwymic investors are not in a bubble: they are optimistic but highly pragmatic, and willing to embrace any tool that can help respond to their deep sense of urgency. Because ultimately, what emerged as the main conference theme was urgency. For Pymwymic investors, for other attendees, and for our team here, there is a increased sense of urgency: we need to decide, act, move, and get these solutions to scale.
So we choose for both optimism and urgency. We find it a solid mix, especially as Pymwymic prepares to take a next step, and launch a new era. We invite you to read more about that in this newsletter. And to make your own choice, for retreat, or for action. Hopefully, we’ll meet you on the path pointing forward.