Throughout the year, the GET INFORMED campaign is offering 100 ‘financial/investment expertise’ mentors to help board members (and senior management wanting to build their board’s skills) better understand the opportunities and risks of social investment.
In this piece, we hear the experiences of three mentors at Big Society Capital volunteering their time and how they are helping their mentees “get informed.”
I was matched with Robin Burgess, the Chief Executive at Hope Enterprises. Hope Enterprises is a Northampton based Community Interest Company that does wonderful work with people affected by homelessness, drugs, alcohol, poverty, mental health and other disadvantages. It runs a number of businesses to offer training and employment to local people, and is developing a new social supermarket idea.
To be honest, I was a little intimidated to be matched with Robin, who has over 20 years of experience leading and working in social sector organisations. During our first call, I was relieved to find that Robin was modest, open-minded and a joy to work with. We had three skype calls over the subsequent two months to analyse his financing needs and explore different social investment options. In particular, we talked about investors’ appetite for social businesses at different stages of growth. Between calls, Robin approached different social investors and I provided input to his business plan. At the end of the two months, I was delighted that the Board of Hope Enterprises have decided to mobilise a mixture of grant funding, surplus and in-kind donations to launch the social supermarket pilot. Although the mentoring did not result in any social investment, I believe Robin is now better informed and more equipped to explore different options at the organisation’s next phase of growth.
Karen Ng, Investment Associate, Big Society Capital
Donate/National Funding Scheme (NFS) provides charities with a range of text and mobile fundraising products and services to maximise fundraising campaigns. Founder Trustee William and I met once face to face, three times on the phone and exchanged 20+ emails. NFS got off the ground with grants and is now looking for growth capital but William had been finding the social investment environment somewhat challenging. We went through the Good Finance website and worked on articulating NFS’s direct and indirect impact. I encouraged William to apply to the Access Impact Management Programme, and introduced NFS to Run A Club who also have “indirect beneficiaries” so that they could exchange support and funding experiences. We looked at possible social investment providers (funds and intermediaries) and talked about Social Investment Tax Relief as a way to seek investment from individuals in the NFS network. For now William has everything he needs and we will be in touch again when he next needs advice.
Joanna Heywood, Relationships Director, Big Society Capital
My mentee organisation is a social enterprise that delivers a range of services in property and landscape maintenance employing those furthest from the labour market, and are keen to explore how social investment can help them grow their operations to ultimately support more people. They were already fairly advanced in their thinking around social investment having received some funding from Big Potential to work with Numbers for Good to do some feasibility scoping. For them, the GET INFORMED campaign was a good opportunity to get a different perspective and check they were progressing broadly in the right direction. We had a number of discussions about their growth plans and need for social investment, and I was able to point to newly available information and sources of capital such as the new Growth Fund funds. The organisation is progressing well with its thinking and feels confident it will be able to begin detailed discussions with social investors in the autumn. I believe the organisation have found GET INFORMED a useful experience to date and appreciate they can reach out to me if they have any ad hoc questions as they continue on their journey.
Rebecca McCartney, Investment Associate, Big Society Capital
Are you interested in becoming a mentor? We are looking for people willing to volunteer their time to support a charity or social enterprise over 12 months. Find out more.