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Top 5: Investors in social enterprises

March 24, 2016

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Everyone talks about impact investing (not you? Read PwC NL’s review of types of impact investors and what they look for, and Good Finance’s list of common questions), but sometimes it seems like it’s really only for scalable social startups in mature markets. And it’s true that much of the activity is based in the US (with the UK, EU and India coming up behind), and has a specifically national focus. If you’re lucky enough to be in one of those countries, you probably already know about the local players to recommend to your SEs. But there are also global and regional impact investing organisations, including angel investors, whose smaller ‘ticket’ sizes make them more relevant to early-stage SEs:

International social angel investors (most angel investor networks are national in scope, so it’s worth shopping around in your area):

  • Investors’ Circle is an early-stage (‘angel’) impact investment network: they consider global companies, but are most interested in those with some US presence.
  • The well-named Girltank blog has a list of angel investors focused on women entrepreneurs by geography; check out also Women Effect.
  • Put Your Money Where Your Mouth/Meaning Is Company (PYMWYMIC) is a European community of funders who believe in capital for good.
  • Go Beyond is a traditional business angel network with Impact as one of their 5 strands. They also offer training on raising financing. Check out Gust for a similar offering.
  • Angel.co has many groups, including this page of Africa-focused angel investors.
  • Toniic is a global action community of impact investors – UnLtd India is one of their dealflow partners, maybe you could be too?

Lists of larger-scale impact investors (typically $250k+):

  • Impact Assets showcase 50 impact investment fund managers each year.
  • Cause Capital lists 15 social venture capital firms worth knowing about (although each of these have their own eligibility criteria)
  • Impact Space offer a database of over 2000 impact investors, searchable by objective and geography. (Requires registration)
  • The GIIN’s Investors’ Council lists about 50 leading impact investors (again, each has their own criteria)
  • The Asian Social Investment Portal, created and managed by GSEN member Changefusion, lists SEs, supporters, and investors (including quite a few GSEN members), and has a valuable updates section.
  • Though not a list, we must also include Yunus Social Business – a GSEN member which provides financial support for social businesses,  their fund investing 50 – 500k EUR in emerging markets such as the Balkans, Brazil, Colombia, Haiti, Tunisia & Uganda.

Some marketplaces for impact investors and SEs:

  • MaxImpact Deals offers a free marketplace for ventures to connect with funders. (Requires registration)
  • Enable impact also offers a secure platform to share documents with investors.
  • For projects in the EEA, the Social Stock Exchange can be a way to get impact-oriented investment. (Requires registration)
  • Convergence is a new project, launched in January 2016, to enable public and private investors to co-invest in blended finance deals in emerging markets. Worth keeping an eye on as it develops. They also have funding for practitioners to design a blended finance product that would fit their development challenges. (Requires registration)

Have you had experience of applying or receiving angel/impact investment? How was it for you – let us know!

Next week we will be looking at some of the major impact measurement methodologies – if you’ve got anything you’d like us to cover, get in touch.

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