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Investing in a Moral Revolution

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  • Latin America

On August 16th, more than 1,700 business leaders convened at the 4th Colombian Business Congress and 75th Assembly of the National Association of Industrialists (“ANDI”). The event featured topics ranging from the national and international economy, the fourth industrial revolution, circular economies, and employment.

As part of the session, “The Impact of Social Investment from the Business Model” moderated by Ricardo Ávila, Director of Portafolio—one of the widest circulated economic daily newspapers in Colombia—Acumen’s Founder and CEO Jacqueline Novogratz presented her talk “Investing in a Moral Revolution.”

Jacqueline highlighted the importance of changing the way business is done by moving beyond generating value for company shareholders to creating a positive social impact on communities. She implored that Colombian leaders must start seeing business as a force to heal and rebuild trust in communities that have been affected by the country’s history of armed conflict.

During her talk, Jacqueline made the case for a revival of moral leadership to take on Colombia’s most difficult challenges. Individuals like Carlos Velasco, CEO of Cacao de Colombia, a chocolate company that processes and sells cocoa beans and premium chocolate in the domestic and international markets, and sources its cocoa beans from local small holder farmers living in post conflict areas, and Diego Benitez, CEO of SiembraViva, a company that connects small holder producers of organic fruits and vegetables with end-consumers and develops organic greenhouse villages, transforming the produce into ready-to-eat products, and sells them to high-end B2B customers, both companies aim to use the profitability of business to drive social impact.

“The true revolution is not technical or capital, it’s moral.”

Carlos and Diego’s businesses have generated new opportunities to address the challenges of inequality in regions affected by the conflict, and are now leading as examples of what is possible when working hand in hand with communities to create peace and prosperity. For Jacqueline, the definition of peace is not the absence of violence alone, peace must be the presence of choice, opportunities and freedom, not just for some of us, but for all of us.