OCTOBER 2022: FRONTPAGE NOTE: Building the Lens of Supplier Diversity

Last week our PAGE team was spread throughout the country at conferences that reflected some of our major tenets as a program. PAGE has always focused on community building through the lens of supplier diversity, access to capital, and education and operational support for entrepreneurs. So, when it came time to attend conferences during October, which better conferences than the annual Healthcare Anchor Network (HAN) Convening and SOCAP, the global gathering for impact investors? 
The HAN conference took place in the Motor City and was centered around impact investment, impact purchasing, workforce development and community engagement and support. The main goal was to see what the Healthcare Anchors were doing to support these four goals and learning from each other. Healthcare Anchors do more than just procure, they invest in the community through home repair and development. They connect with their staff and the caregivers to see what they need to have a work environment that is healthy. And by utilizing 5-year plans, health equity metrics and careful consulting, the Healthcare Anchors are working toward building communities that are better suited for sustainability.  
While I (Jonathan Sterling) was in Detroit, my colleague Melina Harris was in San Francisco attending SOCAP, an annual conference that acknowledges the centrality of market forces as a potential driver of solutions to the larger issues of the world. The aim is to make sure that investments are aligned with values. Here were Melina’s biggest takeaways from SOCAP: 
  • I was delightfully surprised by the number of workshops, panels, and conversations that explored separating power from capital and shifting decision-making authority regarding asset allocation into the hands of communities impacted by those investment decisions 
  • I got a lot out of a workshop facilitated by Illumen Capital, Ulu Ventures, and Impact Experience where I received meaningful insight on how to make data gathering a less extractive process. 
  • Most importantly, I connected with a number of incredibly passionate and intelligent folks in the Philadelphia ecosystem across many sectors including impact investment, research, and real estate & development. I am looking forward to building on those relationships in order to deepen our collaborative approach to drive inclusive, economic impact for our communities. 
These conferences showed us the importance of working with anchor institutions and mission-aligned investors and the potential power of bringing them together to shape our communities for the better. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia has created an ‘anchor reliance index’ to track the impact that anchors have on the economic ecosystems of regions. It shows that the Philadelphia region is fairly reliant on anchors, as are the and majority of the 500 or so regions in the United States – which is why it was so heartening to see such positive work on the part of anchors this past week.