SOCAP 11 in San Francisco ~ our 4th year in a row visiting SF

We started in Chinatown… and we ended in Chinatown.

What are we talking about here? How San Francisco, which is firming up as our favorite city in the U.S., has an awesome Chinatown that is a core part of the SF experience for us. For years now, we’ve wound up in San Francisco. First it was through Ethnicities, our ethnic furniture import company, as we attended our favorite trade show in San Francisco. Then Oren moved to Santa Cruz for school, then Josh moved to San Francisco from Boulder. And now investor conferences have taken place two years in a row in San Francisco. This time, we are here for SOCAP11, the premier US venue to connect impact investors and impact entrepreneurs, an annual event we intend to keep participating with in future years. More on this later.

So, ok, if we are to have a relationship with this city, let’s craft our experience with intent.
And our intent in San Francisco is to early on partake in dim sum, duck, Chinese herbs, natural medicines and reflexology.
Chinese medicine shops are a wealth of exotic items, many, most never to be experienced (by us). But we are expanding our Chinese medicine “vocabulary” as we adopt a trial and error approach, with a bias that Chinese medicine can often treat and prevent physical ailments better than Western solutions. Our last successful Chinese medicine engagement was in the Dominican Republic’s small but potent Chinatown, right after our last trip to Haiti.
We are stumped by these “items”. No idea if they are slugs? dried fish? sea vegetables? horns? Whatever it is, it is super expensive and there is lots of it…
Dim Sum experience as fabulous as ever. Fresh. Light. The thing about Dim Sum is that a visit to a Dim Sum Hall brings together “familiar tastes” of Dim Sum past, and always a smattering of new discoveries.
But as a thoughful step father, I remember that Josh is also culinarily adventurous. Thus we stop in to bring him Chinese duck.
So much for the culinary context for our San Francisco experience. But where we stay also obviously affects our experience. This is where our Home Exchange magic wand comes in.
For years now we have stayed away from hotels and optimized our international travel by taking on the perspective of a “local”. We do this by exchanging our home in Granada against other Home Exchangers’ homes.
So far, we’ve exchanged homes to stay in Washington DC, New Orleans, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Chicago, Amsterdam. We’ve had people stay in our homes from Barcelona, Mexico, Half Moon Bay… So, welcome to our wonderful SF abode, courtesy of Barbara and John, who volunteered their Twin Peaks home in exchange for a future trip to Nicaragua.
Said home came with two Akita (Japanese dogs), who were simultaneously distant but engaged with us.
We have had a dog as part of home exchanges before (Eric, in DC), and in fact we like it! It further connects us with the reality of living in this house, this neighborhood, and of course with the owners through their dogs.
Now, about SOCAP11. Imagine 1500+ “turned on” entrepreneurs, investors, NGO representatives, academics, put them in a San Francisco warehouse for a few days. What results is critical mass toward world change through social impact investment and impact entrepreneurship.



Ben participated in a Central American panel that brought together Agora Partnerships’ Ben Powell and fellow entrepreneurs from Guatemala and Honduras, as well as a moderator from the Inter American Development Bank.
Here with Daniela Hammekan, Agora Partnership’s secret weapon in the pursuit of impact investors. Daniela, originally from Mexico, is fluent in several languages, super sharp and a natural “connector” between people she meets.
Beyond the 7 distinct tracks of non stop conferences on a fascinating range of impact topics, there was an opportunity for entrepreneurs to show something tangible about their activities, the Innovation Showcase. CO2 Bambu showed bamboo building materials to illustrate what is produced in Rosita and the impact we are having in terms of jobs created, farmers income created, and ecological impact in terms of reforestation.

This entrepreneur is introducing a simple device to transport water in Africa. For generations, African women have carried huge clay pots/urns on their heads, bringing water from the rivers to the villages. The pots are heavy, the job laborious and occupying a good portion of the women’s time and energy. By using this plastic, rollable gallon, while not nearly as aesthetic, women are freed up to spend more time with their children’s education.
Of course, one might argue that this constitutes interference in the ancestral practices and therefore contributing to the loss of culture. So what is the right solution for impact players ? to help modernize at the cost of culture, to let the cycle of poverty, hunger and lack of education persist, for fear of interference? These are illustrative of questions that are raised by well meaning, like minded participants.
Beyond the tracks and the innovation showcase, SOCAP was also the organizing force behind nighly social events. Here, on opening night, a first chance to experience the “palpable energy” of participants.
But after SOCAP, there is yet another empty-nester dimension — it just happens that the home exchange Peta organized, is 5 minutes away from where Josh and Krista now live in Twin Peaks. What are the odds?!

Sushi is always a key component of a trip to San Francisco, pricey but “vale la peina!”.
This is an opportunity to catch up on Josh’s company, Euphonic Conceptions. EC specializes in putting together multi-media, multi-artist, edgy musical events. It is impressive to see that the business is still alive and growing after three years. What was a local “operation” in Colorado and developed a second “leg” in San Francisco when Josh moved here, Euphonic Conceptions now has a national footprint and brand. (see

As we wrote, we started in Chinatown and we ended in Chinatown. To our surprise, the timing of our last visit corresponded with the annual moon festival… so plenty of activity in Chinatown.
Fast forward past airport logistics and we are back in Granada.
FULL NEST: we meet our “crew”: Oren, Adam and Ezra each doing “his own thing” and connecting for a family meal, courtesy of our family chef Adam, who uses all the fresh ingredients we brought back from Chinatown (bok choy, figs, blue eggplant…)

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