Financial, Human Capital Solving Problems

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Bob Pattillo, founder of Gray Ghost Ventures, joined Vice President and Secretary of Emory University Rosemary Magee and Ross Baird of First Light Village Capital Nov. 16 at Goizueta for a special “Creativity Conversation” on ways to leverage financial and human capital for social good.

Pattillo is a serial entrepreneur with interest in social enterprise and microfinance. He entered from the world of big business where he once owned the eighth-largest industrial real estate firm in the country.

The trio spoke for more than an hour on various topics:

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“I tried to do both for the longest time… I realized I couldn’t do both well,” Pattillo said when asked about his “traditional” business and the outside-the-box thinking of social entreprenuership. He said while real estate could make him happy it was nothing like the feeling he got from working with small business owners half a world away.

Pattillo describes Gray Ghost as “an impact investment management company,” saying it takes good business sense to not only get a return on unique investment but build for the future.

“It is a commercial enterprise,” he said. “We do believe a for-profit business is the way to have the most social impact, to be able to take those profits and redeploy them into the edgiest stuff. You’re putting your own skin in the game that way so we are committed to that approach.

“It starts with caring and having a deep feeling for the clients you’re trying to serve,” he added. “… The financial capital is secondary. It’s really the human capital that’s the most powerful — your trustworthiness; your courage. This isn’t a 10 percent return, this is a 10-times return.”

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