How delighted I was to welcome the Pymwymic community to De Horst Estate this year for Pymwymic Impact Days 2018. This beautiful estate with its century old trees and historic country house is the home turf of my organisation, Nivoz. I enjoy being in this green environment on a daily basis and it was a great feeling to now be gathered here with the Pymwymic community. So here, in nature, we gathered for “a combination of networking opportunities, big-picture inputs and concrete investments”, as a fellow attendee put it. Impact Days is known for the community feel, a high percentage of investors (>80%) and for combining ‘transactional’ as well as ‘transformational’ elements in the conference. As individuals we are called to ‘put our money where our meaning is’ – but the sense of community and our common purpose became visible and almost tangible when we gathered outside and grouped together in a circle on the grass.
With over 50 speakers and 30+ sessions in two days, capturing all of this would be a near-impossible task. Instead, I would like to share some of my personal highlights with you.
A different angle
As is typical for Pymwymic we try to bring in different perspectives, and welcome new ways of thinking. We believe that challenging our own way of thinking, will help us in finding new solutions. Two memorable perspectives: first was reflecting on our relationship towards nature by Prof Dr Matthijs Schouten and second understanding the unravelling power of listening by Dr Scilla Elworthy. Matthijs Schouten, also known as the nature philosopher, challenged us to reflect on our attitude towards nature. Reminiscing about our first kiss: was it in the forest? Something as simple as this will have forever changed our attitude towards nature.
We even did a real-life exercise: at dinner we created an ecosystem: boiling down the almost ungraspable scale of our world’s ecosystems to a jar with just the basics: earth, water, plants and CO2/oxygen. All in perfect balance.
At the end of the conference day, Scilla Elworthy shared with us the secrets behind transformative leadership which she has seen in working with the likes of Nelson Mandela Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Sir Richard Branson. Her powerful message explained how to overcome the conflicts that are often required to make a change. The greatest respect you can pay to another person is to give her or him your full attention. To listen. No one was quite the same after the story of how soldier Chris Hughes diffused a hostile situation in Afghanistan, simply by showing respect.
Shaping the future
The Pymwymic community is known to take a pioneering approach. We look to what is next. We live in times of digital connection, virtual reality and open source technology. How is this going to change the world we live in and the way we wish to realise impact? Hence the theme this year: Redesigning our Future.
Companies as Qlickchain, Qucit, Erasmus University, Decibel.LIVE, Give and TYKN shared how they are shaping the future. From Virtual Reality for PTSS therapy to blockchain for agriculture supply chains – we got a taste of what technology can do to bring about positive change.
We were proud to also welcome SingularityU to our community. CEO of the Netherlands, Diederick Croese, gave us a further glimpse of the future – which is actually already the present! We are starting to experience the uptake of ‘exponential change and innovation’. This generates great opportunity, but also unease: are we ready to understand these complex systems?
I was struck by how entrepreneurs as well as investors shared lessons learned throughout the conference, bravely and openly. An investor and entrepreneur took the stage and shared their account of events in the investment cycle and search of growth financing of an early stage company. “It was such a brave session and very rare to have such a real conversation.”
The community spirit was especially apparent during Family Day – the smaller scale members-only gathering preceding the larger conference day. Here, amongst peers, we are candid about the learnings, challenges and struggles of developing an impact investment strategy, dealing with family matters and inter-generational conversations.
What touched me deeply was a session with Next Gens. Their sense of consequential responsibility, combined with gratitude for the possibility that wealth brings. Their view that wealth should be put to use – if it can do good now. It really resonated. What also echoes inside me is the sentence someone used that day: “Your name is on your money”. It crisply captures the responsibility ánd possibility that comes with increasing wealth.
Built by the community
Energised and inspired by the powerful connections and learnings from the days, we move forward and take action. We Put Our Money Where Our Meaning Is. Will you join us?
We hope to see you next year, at our 25th anniversary. Please save the date: 2&3 April 2019!
on behalf of the Member Host Team 2018,
Nickel van der Vorm
We conclude with a word of gratitude, to all investors and impact partners who participated and shared their insights. To the entrepreneurs for applying skills, talent and perseverance in their companies. And last but not least to our impact-aligned partners – many of whom have supported our mission for many years now.