Friday, March 31, 2006

Social stock exchanges discussion here at Oxford

So in the discussion today at the Skoll Forum between Peter Wheeler, Mohammed Yunus, Ron Grzywinski and Celso Grecco about developing a social stock exchange -- Peter drew attention to a possible emerging schism about whether a social stock exchange needed to be as much like the regular stock exchange as possible, or whether it's a different culture, different context, a different beast etc. And in light of Peter raising us (GlobalGiving) as a potential social stock exchange, I've been pressed to reflect where we fall on this issue -- and I think we fall somewhere in between. Mohammed is clearly in the camp that if you go to a fish market looking for oranges, you're bound to be disappointed, and I have a great deal of sympathy for that point. I do think the reasons why people are moved to give v. the reasons why people are moved to invest are different. As to why I think we fall in between, I don't believe we need to "invent" a brand new model to serve the social stock exchange. I do believe that the eBay model comes really really close. The idea that people carry out commerce within the context of a community would have sounded crazy as a pitch before eBay, but it draws on a rather deep insight about why people purchase things like collectables (as opposed to, say, groceries or toiletries). To the extent that eBay was based on the collectables market, I think it draws on people's desire to express their identity and declare their allegiance and community among likeminded people. And I think the same is possibly true of philanthropy.

I had a personal insight about this when I was listening to the presentation two days ago about MDLF and realized how moved I was to buy one of their investment notes because I wanted to actually declare my allegiance and solidarity with their cause. I rarely feel that way about my stock or mutual fund purchases. And I actually wanted to find out who else felt that way. I could do that on eBay. And I'd like to be able to do that on GlobalGiving.


David Kam said...

Thank you for you article. I was wondering if GlobalGiving is interested in collaborating with us for our social stock exchange.

We are setting up North America's first social stock exchange connected to a green social network, called the Green Stock Exchange (GREENSX) at:, which will be launched in the Summer of 2008 to begin trading.

The Green Stock Exchange will trade shares in social businesses. A social business is a business that makes a profit, but benefits society as well. We have a triple bottom line (economic + social + environmental).

Since all the listed companies on the exchange are pre-screened, evaluated, and audited according to social and sustainable guidelines set by the exchange, it will make it much easier for green investors to find and support social businesses. The GREENSX provides opportunities for small green Issuers to access public equity capital efficiently, while providing early stage investors, angel investors, and venture capitalists with greater liquidity.

This also includes a trading system for carbon credits.

We have not made any press releases yet, so nobody knows about it yet. It is still in the beta stage testing. Check it out at:

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