Asking Questions about “Patient Capital” and Social Entrepreneurship: A Video Interview with Chris Farrell
Trent Gilliss, online editor
Producing programs on the ethics of foreign aid and international development can be challenging and fortifying, particularly our shows on the subject — or my interview with Patrick Bellegarde-Smith about the state of Haiti. Not everything a guest says will ring true to the listener’s ear. It’s in the very nature of individuals like Jacqueline Novogratz and Binyavanga Wainaina to penetrate the bubble of our own preconceived notions, or at least play on that elasticity.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t clarify and ask follow-up questions that might round out, or downright challenge, these ideas. It’s good to listen but also to have a good healthy dose of skepticism and the willingness to check it out.
While producing this week’s program, we did just that. I asked Krista if she would sit down again with Chris Farrell, our chief economics correspondent, whom you probably hear most often on Marketplace and Marketplace Money.
Personally, I wanted to better understand some of the terms that Jacqueline Novogratz was using — sometimes as points of differentiation and, at other times, interchangeably. Terms like “donor” and “investor” or even ideas like “venture capital” and “return on investment.” I also wanted to get a lay of the land, a broader view about what “patient capital” (which, Chris says, applied to dot-com startups like Google at one time) means to the larger financial and investment sectors.
Chris gives a helpful history of the origins of social investing, addresses some of this prevailing skepticism, and tells us that he thinks of markets as “chat rooms” as much as “listening devices.” This interview is well worth your while if you want to better understand social entrepreneurship and how we might help others in need.