Sustainable Goals and Social Impact: Do You Have What you need to succeed?

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By Maximpact

Sustainable Goals and Social Impact: 

Do You Have What you need to succeed?

At the nexus of change Maximpact.com is a work space for projects, businesses, ideas and endless opportunities.  A global marketplace of qualified consultants, experts and services.

Maximpact.com today announced the launch of their consulting and advisory services to support the development of projects, businesses and funds in the circular, impact and sustainability sectors. Aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Maximpact offers over 185 services to 20 different sectors including agriculture, assessment, community, environment, forestry, fisheries, water, waste management, renewable energy, women empowerment and more…

Existing customers have welcomed the diversity of the rich suite of services and it’s ease of use saving them both time and money. 

Customers at Maximpact can choose from both packaged or tailored support development and support services to assist their project or business at any stage of development. With access to pre-selected resources, an extensive network, knowledge and skills from around the world customers are well equipped in a rapidly changing world.

With hundreds of pre-qualified experts, project mangers and thousands of NGOs with experience in many thousands of projects worldwide, sourcing hard-to-find consultants, services and partners has never been easier than through Maximpact’s one-stop-shop.

By streamlining and simplifying the process of project and business development Maximpact has helped its clients save up to 65% in time and money, that is a welcome change to any one’s bottom line.

Difficult searches for good resources is now a thing of the past as users benefit from a unique Project Search Map allowing them to find experts quickly based upon project, geography, sector, language and expertize. Maximpact has once again made  complex tasks easy.

After finding the right expert, clients can book a call with the expert of their choice, receive a phone recording of their call and if they wish can proceed to hire the expert for their project online.

Services Offered

The new support and development services provided by Maximpact are designed for all projects, businesses and funds.

Project Services

Project services deliver resources and solutions to support, develop and improve projects at any stage of their development and cycle. Maximpact will tailor consulting and project services to find the right solution for the most complex challenges. Services cover different stages of project cycles such as: 

  • Consultation
  • Project initiation and planning
  • Assessment
  • Implementation
  • Capacity building
  • Visibility, communication and networking

Business Services

Tailored advisory services addresses the challenges businesses face in a rapidly changing marketplace. Maximpact offers a wide range of business services and solutions to suit the unique needs of each client. Assisting to plan, solve problems, mitigate risk, fund and source market opportunities through Maximpact’s global network.

Services cover different stages of business cycles such as: 

  • Consultation
  • Corporate Finance
  • Assessment
  • Strategy
  • Capacity Building
  • Operations and Supply chain

Investment Ready Services include packaged business services to suit the budget of all businesses.

Services cover different stages of business cycles such as:

  • Business plans and financials
  • Business valuations
  • Due diligence

Fund Services

Unique investment fund services have been designed to streamline processes and help improve the funds’ efficiency and competitiveness. By offering expert advice in 20 sectors we are able to deliver tailored services to the needs of each fund.

Services offered to funds such as:

  • Sector specific advice and market study
  • Investment sourcing 
  • Investment filtering 
  • Financial due diligence / auditing 
  • Investment analysis and reports
  • Acceleration of market-ready investments

Leveraging our unique global network and services Maximpact  delivers expertise, improved efficiency, real-time market knowledge and decision-making capabilities.


Tom_Holland_imageTom Holland, Founder and CEO of Maximpact.com comments:

Since Maximpact’s inception years ago we are dedicated and continue to focus on building our vision. Bringing together those working in silos of activity and to group together like-minded communities wishing to create good impact and a more sustainable future for us all. In doing so our community of over 90,000 includes hundreds of qualified experts, consultants and services in over 173 countries. Our expert community is expected to grow to 1,000 by year end.  New project and business activity continues to increase and will grow further as we welcome the thousands of project managers and NGOs who will become active in our network.

Visit us and find our out more about www.Maximpact.com


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Attracting Investors with a Business Plan

Attracting Investors with a Business Plan

Maximpact Services

Attracting Investors: What Investors Look for in a Business Plan

Entrepreneurs, businesses and projects rely on investment capital to hit the ground running. The groundwork and roadmap must be laid out within a solid investor-ready business plan. The activation of the best business plan starts out with catching the investor’s interest.

Therefore, a strategic business plan is essential in getting the funding you are looking for from VCs, accelerator, angel investors or other types of funders. First impressions are the most lasting.

Cutting to the chase

Venture capitalists, accelerators and angel investors are extremely busy and expect entrepreneur to do the required homework before approaching them. They only choose to take projects to the next level that have a solid business plan. (Read our blog on “ Are You Investment Ready” ).

A business plan shows investors how well you know your market, product, strategy and exit plan. Unless your investors are strictly family and friends, a third party’s main concern is how your product or service will achieve traction in the marketplace, profitability and what are the possible exit strategies.

Why is a business plan needed?

Many ask whether they need a business plan. The answer is “yes”.

A business plan is the answer to the question, “What do you aim to accomplish?” It is the blueprint and brainwork for the entrepreneur, management and the investor. It conveys vision and strategy to investors, laying out the path to success – where your business will have greater profitability and increased assets.

What is an investment ready business plan?

It is the aforementioned potential profitability, which is demonstrated through financial projections – usually within a 3 to 5 year period – that attract investors. A business plan answers unique concerns of an investor when it:

•    concisely details the business, customer profile, company management, market strategy, and financial projections

•    creatively presents business ideas tailored for the investor audience

•    clearly demonstrates acceptable risk, investor reward, and value creation

What do investors look for when reading a business plan?

It is important to understand what the investor will look for before outing forward your pitch:

•    The business plan will map out the products or services offered, how they will gain traction and the speed at which they will do so.

•    Secondly, investors will think of is the exit – how much, how long and how will the investors earn their return?

•    Thirdly, how much investment capital is required to grow a company to the  point where they can earn a return on their investment and also many more rounds of investment might be needed for the following milestones to be reached?

Having these answers ready, will ensure you are prepared.

In addition investors are looking at a variety of factors including a solid management team or advisors with a proven record of success. They must be convinced that the product offering has a clear competitive advantage with a shot at increasing and substaining  the value of the company, i.e., this could include different markets that can be tapped into with the same product or service for future growth.

Approaching investors – what do you need?

Approaching investors is best done through intermediaries who have ties and relationship to VCs, accelerators, angel investors and other types of funders. Generally, business plans are not sent as a first communication tool to investors but is kept for later when the investor is interested in hearing more about your business or business idea.

The 3 tools that are a necessity to pitch a solid business proposal are:

1. An elevator pitch. A brief description of what your value proposition is, that will clearly show the investor what the traction of your idea is and ignite that spark of interest to carry on reading.

2. A high-concept pitch. This would be a single sentence within the elevator pitch, which highlights the startup’s vision.

3. A ten-slide deck in the form of a Power Point presentation to tell your company’s compelling story. Click here to see what the ten-slide deck should contain.

The elevator pitch is an incentive for investors to look at the ten-slide deck. The deck provides the impetus to set up a meeting and/or ask for the business plan.

Your takeaway is…

Always remember what are foremost in the minds of investors:

•    Traction: Is your product going to be a great addition to the marketplace with or without their investment.

•    Investment: How much funding is required and the terms offer.

•    The Exit: Investors put money in private companies hoping  they might cash out through an IPO some time in the future. They will consider and look closely at your exit strategy to understand potential return, timeframe to exit and different options.

Do you need to write a business plan? update an old one? or is your business plan investor ready? 

Knowing how to craft a solid, investor ready business plan and how to approach investors lays the foundation for attracting investors. Equally important is knowing the investor’s perspective, which is, above all, return on their investment. It is best to let a business plan expert help you write, complete or update your business plan. This is an investment which will improve your chances of funding success.

When considering your business plan needs take a look at how www.Maximpact.com can help. We have hundreds of highly qualified experts and consultants able to satisfy the needs of any entrepreneur or business. Whether you require them to have specialized skills or expertise in specific sectors we have them all.

We cater to all budgets and help your business evolve and meet its full potential. Our business experts will steer you in the right direction and make sure you have what you need to become investor ready.

Book a free consultation with one of our mentors by contacting us at info@maximpact.com or visit www.Maximpact.com.

Bare It All: ESG disclosure is the new obsession of investors and businesses alike

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By Marta Maretich @maximpactdotcom

Here’s a riddle: Investors are demanding them. The global business community is boosting them. Companies large and small are trying to figure out how to produce them. What are they?

You guessed it: Extra-financial performance results—the environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics that demonstrate that a company is acting responsibly as it conducts its business. In a major shift in global attitudes toward sustainability and the role of business in society, this fast-growing area is now a major focus for businesses and investors alike.

Not new, but moving fast

The movement behind making ESG criteria for investing has been gaining ground for four decades, with pioneers like Hazel Henderson and Joan Bavaria of Trillium leading the charge. But the pace of change has recently been accelerating across non-profit, public and business sectors alike leading more investors to look to ESG when making decisions.

Several factors are driving the shift. Increased concerns about the effects of climate change are leading citizens and governments to demand tougher environmental regulations for businesses (E). Social factors (S), such as human rights abuses, are now recognized as material risks. Poor governance is widely seen as a factor in the financial crash of 2008, sparking investor demands for more information about the G in ESG. Meanwhile, evidence is mounting that shows companies that pay attention to extra-financials actually perform better in the long term.

Extra-financial and ultra-influential

All these factors contributed to making 2014 a watershed year for investment decisions based on extra-financial factors. Fossil fuel divestment was one area where investors were seen to make decisions for reasons other than financial performance.

Investors controlling billions of dollars, such as the Rockefeller Brothers, The Wallace Fund and Ben and Jerry’s, all divested their holdings in fossil fuels in an effort to combat climate change. More of this is coming. Major institutions such as museums, universities, city governments and pension funds are all feeling the pressure to divest.

Private investors are an important part of the trend with some 70% now expressing an interest in investing with a conscience. As a result, asset managers in many parts of the industry are climbing on board and looking to expand their expertise in what is a strong growth area of the market.

Changing attitudes to ESG in business

These trends are putting new ESG-related obligations on companies and investors alike.

For companies, there is increased pressure to track and report ESG performance, an activity that costs organizational resources and must be carefully managed for good results. Luckily, attitudes toward ESG are changing across the business world. Top executives no longer see it as mainly a reputational or branding exercise. Rather, ESG-competence is emerging as good business practice that can foster innovation, lead companies to identify efficiencies and help manage risks. Embracing ESG reporting provides greater access to capital, too. It’s a necessity in a climate where investors will turn down deals with companies that don’t disclose well enough or don’t disclose at all.

Across the world, companies are racing to incorporate ESG into their monitoring and reporting frameworks. To help them, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) provides a range of resources, including this one for absolute beginners. GRI starter kit. Other groups, like the EVCA, a European group of private equity investors, have developed their own framework to help businesses disclose ESG performance.

Investors incorporate ESG in decision-making

The EVCA framework—for businesses but developed by investors—is one example of how seriously investors are now taking ESG. And there is further evidence that the investing sector is taking positive steps to get better at incorporating extra-financials into decision-making processes.

The UN-sponsored Principles for Responsible Investing (PRI) initiative has been around since 2005 and today has 1,371 signatories around the world. The PRI provides a framework for incorporating ESG concerns into investment practice as well as reporting. It now includes a climate change pledge for asset owners.

Global investors are banding together around ESG, joining groups like the Global Sustainable Investor’s (GSI) Alliance. The Alliance supports progress in sustainable investing by identifying trends and acting as a network for national groups. It has attracted important national members including Europe’s Eurosif, British UKSIF, American US SIF, Canadian RIA and the Asian region ASrIA.

Standards are also being developed to help investors compare ESG performance across companies. The CDP amasses disclosure data on climate change issues and works with investors and companies to improve performance and reporting. Today its membership includes more than 822 institutional investors representing in excess of US$95 trillion in assets. In 2014 the CDP scored over 4700 companies on climate-related performance.

Meanwhile, the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) is establishing the materiality of sustainability issues, applying an accountancy approach to determining their value. Operating as a non-profit, SASB makes its standards in areas like healthcare, infrastructure and renewable resources available online to investors and businesses alike. Like the CDP and the EVCA, SASB offers paid consultancy services to help clients embed ESG into their reporting and decision-making processes. (Note that this kind of service provision around ESG disclosure looks set to be a growth area for the sector.)

Burdens and opportunities

Extra-financial disclosure presents both a burden and an opportunity for companies and investors. On the burden side, it takes time, resources and in some cases a profound change of attitude for companies and those who capitalize them to embrace ESG and make it part of normal business practice. On the opportunity side, the link between non-financial performance and long-term organizational health and profitability is becoming clearer. That of course leaves aside the core argument for ESG reporting: that it is a powerful tool for reigning in the damage business can do and turning its efforts to benefit in the larger sense. This is something both companies and investors should get behind.

Asset Managers Need New Skills to Meet Millennials’ Demands for Social, Sustainable and Impact Investing Opportunities

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By Marta Maretich @maximpactdotcom

It’s clear: the global investment landscape is changing. Oil, that mainstay of portfolios, is on the slide. Markets long dominated by pension funds and insurance companies are now seeing greater international ownership of companies and the rise of other players such as hedge funds and private equity firms. Investment horizons are shortening. Regulation is increasing.

These factors are creating a challenging climate for financial asset managers who need to adapt to the new realities of a changing investment marketplace.

To make matters more complex, investor profiles are changing, too. As older investors pass on their wealth, a new generation of socially conscious millennial investors are demanding more opportunities to put their money into investments that produce social good and avoid doing environmental damage. The effect of this trend is already measureable, with studies, like this one from Eurosif, showing all sustainable and responsible investment strategies continuing to grow at a faster rate than the broad European asset management market.

This means that, while asset managers are getting to grips with a new financial picture, they’re also looking for ways to serve new kinds of clients. Many of them already see the writing on the wall: in a recent survey by First Affirmative, a financial network, 49% believed that “the needs and interests of younger investors will have to be catered to if the industry is to thrive.” Female asset managers are ahead of the curve, the same study shows, with a higher rate of awareness when it comes to impact, social and sustainable markets and a greater likelihood to already be offering such options to clients.

The age of the “multilingual” asset manager

Change may already be happening, yet the mainstreaming of socially beneficial investing—and particularly impact investing, which has grown faster than any other part of the market—means that asset managers across the industry will need to upgrade their skill sets and become “multilingual” when it comes to creating investment strategies.

Recent thinking about the future of the impact investing sector flagged the importance of the “multilingual leader”—an individual or team with an array of cross-sectoral skills that create the right mix of social commitment an financial know-how to lead beneficial businesses.

The rise of popularity in social and impact investing will demand that asset managers become “multilingual” in a similar way. In this context, multilingualism will mean bringing all the traditional skills of asset management to the table, and adding to these new tools and expertise to meet the demands and opportunities of today’s more diverse marketplace.

But what, specifically, are these new skills and capabilities?

New skills for a new investing landscape

Practices are evolving even as the market for impact, sustainable and social investing expands, but some core competencies have been identified so far.

Familiarity with diverse investment markets: Lack of familiarity with new kinds of investing is often cited as a main reason why many asset managers don’t offer these options to clients. Asset managers with an eye on the future need to familiarize themselves with the ever-growing array of opportunities across the sector. These include private equity impact investing, social investment bonds, ESG screened portfolios, themed funds, and now even electronically traded funds in areas like cleantech, water and edutech.

In a market where innovation is extending the range of options on a daily basis, keeping up can be a challenge. Tuning into the conversation by following the work of leading institutions such as GIIN and the IIPC, websites like GreenBiz , and good twitter feeds such as @pioneerspost  and @IAimpactassets can help newcomers find their way. 30 Must-Follow Twitter Feeds for Impact Investing. For a mainstream take, large media sites like Forbes  and Huffpost and financial publications like The Economist and the FT increasingly cover the social investing trend in terms asset managers can relate to.

Confidence with more information: As digital natives, millennial investors have higher expectations when it comes to communication and transparency, especially where social and environmental impact is concerned. In this, they are in step with a global trend toward more stringent regulation leading to higher demands for disclosure and transparency on the part of companies. Today’s young investor is likely to be more actively engaged than her older predecessor, demanding timely, accurate information on investments to be delivered in a convenient and easy-to-grasp form.

This has a host of implications for asset managers offering socially beneficial investment options to their clients. First, they will need to be able to evaluate the reported data of potential investments accurately and align investor concerns with outcomes in a given strategy. An ability to see beyond claims and accurately judge the quality and reliability of the various reporting practices used by companies will be key. Asset managers will need to choose investments that can deliver a high level of accountability and transparency in both financial and extra-financial performance, for example ones that adopt extended reporting practices and use new standards for sustainability like SASB.

Faster, detailed, two-way communication: Importantly, they will also need to find effective ways to communicate this information to clients more quickly and at every point in the investment cycle.

The practice of annual and quarterly reporting is already being viewed as insufficient by many investors, and real-time, on-demand reporting is now a reality inside some companies. What this will mean for the wider investment marketplace is still not certain, but it’s clear that asset managers will need to be prepared to handle unprecedented levels of information and use it effectively to build strategies and also to communicate with clients.

And they can expect communication to be an increasingly two-way street. With better informed, socially conscious clients wanting more of a say in how their money is invested, the ability to receive and manage investor feedback will be a key skill for asset managers. Satisfying clients will mean keeping pace with their evolving social and environmental objectives and responding quickly to their concerns.

Changing the industry from within

Mainstream finance has made strides when it comes to embracing sustainability, social benefit and impact investing. Driven by government regulation and supported by high profile initiatives like the G8 taskforce, the movement is becoming part of the broader market ecosystem. Industry giant BlackRock’s appointment of Deborah Winshel, a multilingual leader if there ever was one, is one example of a changing mood in finance. Another is the high profile of climate change and sustainability at Davos this year.

Asset managers obviously have an important role to play in giving more investors access to the expanding marketplace for beneficial investing. Their influence, however, goes beyond the purely commercial and is likely to be felt on a deeper level.

Increasingly, asset managers themselves form part of the groundswell toward creating a new kind of financial marketplace. Many are shifting out of traditional investing to take up roles in impact and sustainability. The next generation is demanding more training in innovative financial approaches from their MBA programs, while organizations like GIIN are offering training for professionals already working in the field.

At the same time, inside many large institutions, committed individuals like Harald Walkate of Aegon are quietly at work teaching other asset managers how to build more impact into existing portfolios and how to create investment strategies that maximize social and environmental benefit while delivering profit.

While not a “skill” as such, this new outlook on the part of asset managers may be the most valuable thing they bring to the field of beneficial investing. It will contribute to reshaping the financial landscape and, in highly practical ways, help establish socially beneficial finance as a viable choice for investors of all kinds. For asset managers, this mindset looks set to be one of the factors that will shape their working lives in coming years, demanding from them new skills and new sensitivities and profoundly changing their relationship with markets—and with the millennial clients they serve.

Why impact Investors and Businesses Need Better Ways to Communicate

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Impact businesses and impact investors want the same things—but a lack of tools for sharing information hampers successful collaboration.

By guest contributor Antony Upward, Sustainability Business Architect

Both impact investors and businesses seeking impact investments share a strong desire to see that businesses are tri-profitable— producing financial rewards, social benefits and environmental regeneration.  This shared desire to maximize the tri-impact of business comes from the fact that impact investors and tri-impact entrepreneurs fundamentally share the same belief that businesses will do best when they do good.

Based on their shared desire for tri-impact:

  • Tri-impact entrepreneurs are driven to choose strategies and design their operations to be tri-profitable;
  • Impact investors are motivated to allocate capital (debt, equity or hybrid forms) to investments where they expect both to receive a financial return (ranging from return of principal to market-beating returns) and a defined additional social and/or environmental impact.

Why shared values aren’t enough

And yet, what we’re learning in our conversations with impact investors is that, despite their shared values and intention to act accordingly (and all the goodwill this engenders), there isn’t currently an approach for the investor and the business seeking investment to efficiently carry forward their shared values to the necessary next level of detail.  In other words there isn’t a good way for them to gain a shared understanding of the viability and quality of the action the for-impact business is planning and to report on whether what they do has produced the intended tri-impact.

In order for collaboration to work effectively, several things need to happen. Businesses need to be certain that their proposed action (the design of their business model) is well aligned with their intended impacts. They must be able to share the story of their proposed action in a language that will resonate with impact investors. On their side, impact investors need to be able to quickly and accurately gauge whether business plans are realistic. And they need to be able to scope the risks to tri-profitability, spot opportunities to increase tri-impact a business has missed, and communicate these things in a way an that a business can act upon.

In summary: how can the investor and the business to quickly share the action planned by the business in a way that allows mutual understanding and learning while deepening their relationship?  How can they efficiently and effectively determine if they are aligned and have a good fit for each other based on their shared values?

The limits of current approaches

But don’t existing techniques used by profit-prioritizing businesses resolve these challenges?
Unfortunately the two most common existing approaches —business plans and reporting— don’t, on their own, enable the required level of values-aligned shared understanding, mutual learning and relationship-building required by impact partnerships. Though both are valuable, both have limitations when it comes to using them in an impact context.

Business Plans: There is no agreement on what a business plan that describes a tri-profitable business looks like; every business and impact investor has their own ideas of what’s required.   As Alex Osterwalder and Steve Blank have observed, business plans don’t enable compelling storytelling, a powerful tool for impact businesses. They don’t facilitate learning and they can be inaccessible for investors.

Reporting:  Reporting provides some evidence of tri-impact created in the past, but it doesn’t give a view of future impact, which helps investors assess the quality of the planned actions.  At this writing, we still don’t have an integrated set of reports (financial, social, environmental) that allow rating and ranking by investors.  Hindering the Growth of the Impact Investing Market.

Constraining the impact market

The lack an efficient approach for impact investors and tri-impact entrepreneurs to deepen their relationship around their shared values creates a range of problems for the impact investing marketplace:

  • It takes too long for investees and investors to build trust, impacting deal cost and deal flow.
  • It’s hard for businesses to tell inspiring stories about all aspects of their planned tri-impact—profit, people and planet.
  • Impact investors have trouble communicating about additional opportunities for tri-impact or additional risks they may identify.
  • Both parties have trouble identifying a concise set of performance measures and reporting approaches to track all aspects of the businesses progress.

But there is also a wider issue: These communication problems effectively limit both the number of viable tri-impact business opportunities and the supply of impact investments seeking those opportunities.  In turn, this limits the scale and development speed of the impact investing market and hence the total quantity of integrated environmental, social and economic benefits being created by business to address today’s most pressing challenges created by the ever growing mega-forces of change.

We think that impact investors and business would find it easier to get aligned on a specific opportunity based on their shared values if they had a shared language to communicate business plans and demonstrate impact. In my upcoming blog, I’ll explore how impact investors and business seeking capital can use new approaches to business models and reporting to align based on their shared values – for their mutual benefit.

About the author: Antony Upward is a Sustainability Business Architect and the Principle of the enterprise design consultancy, Edward James Consulting Ltd. His work focuses on business model diagnosis and design considering all three dimensions of sustainability: economic/profit, social/people, and environmental/planet. He’s one of the developers behind The Flourishing Business Model Innovation Toolkit, a collaborative project of the OCAD University Strongly Sustainable Business Model Group.

Ashoka financing agency, FASE, closes first impact deal

By Ellinor Dienst and Markus Freiburg, FASE Team

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Attila von Unruh

Ashoka, one of the pioneers of social entrepreneurship, launched the Financing Agency for Social Entrepreneurship GmbH (FASE) to make growth of social enterprises financially viable in Germany. The FASE model allows co-investments by impact investors and philanthropists through an open pipeline of investment-ready social entrepreneurs, and it develops innovative financing models specifically suitable for social enterprises. The objective is to create a complete ecosystem for financing social enterprises.

Now FASE has successfully closed its first deal, financing the efforts of German social entrepreneur and Ashoka Fellow Attila von Unruh (pictured) as he establishes a private consultancy that helps social enterprise businesses in crisis.

Extending services for entrepreneurs

Von Unruh’s new enterprise builds on a solid track record of social entrepreneurship. Three years ago the Ashoka Fellow founded BV INSO (the German Association for New Opportunities for People in Bankruptcy), a nonprofit that offers advice and personal support to entrepreneurs in crisis. So far, BV INSO has helped over 8,000 people both before and during bankruptcy.

The overwhelming success of these services led to increasing demand for individual counseling, and, because counseling isn’t funded by donations or membership fees, von Unruh saw a business opportunity. With financing from FASE, he founded the for-profit turnaround consultancy firm, Von Unruh & Team, to offer advice and support for entrepreneurs, self-employed businesspeople and freelancers who find themselves in business crisis or threatened by bankruptcy. Its main goals are preventing business failures through early consultation and providing assistance to restart businesses after bankruptcy.

The founder describes his approach as follows: “We offer eye-level crisis and turnaround advice, with a focus on the person and the creative power of the entrepreneur. Our specially-trained consultants have their own crisis experience, and our clients are usually supported right up until their personal and entrepreneurial comeback. With this approach, von Unruh & Team actively and effectively creates a ‘second chance’ culture.”

His approach; preventing the insolvency of small and medium-sized enterprises with advice from entrepreneurs who have their own experience of crisis; is unique in Germany and beyond. The company von Unruh; Team works as a social enterprise subject to market conditions. Any profit generated is invested in the further expansion of the business or donated to the organization’s nonprofit regional support groups, BV INSO and von Unruh’s other nonprofit, the Stiftung Finanzverstand (the Financial Literacy Foundation). This income supports projects to develop the consultants’ financial expertise.

Innovative models for social investment

While von Unruh’s not-for-profits are funded by membership fees and private donations, private seed capital,in the form of impact investments, was raised for the establishment of the new private consultancy firm.

For the first financing round, FASE developed a financing model on the basis of a conditional revenue sharing agreement to meet the needs of social enterprises. Two investors were then selected from the recently established Ashoka Angels Network to provide seed capital for the development and expansion of von Unruh’s business. Both strongly believed in the scalability and social impact of the business model as well as the personal integrity of the entrepreneur. This entrepreneurial solution to the social challenge was crucial for von Unruh, who wanted to attract investors who would personally act as the company’s Social Business Angels.

FASE developed the financing structure to accommodate the accounts of the business model by giving the social entrepreneur flexibility, but still giving the investors a fair share in the success of the business. This conditional profit participation agreement involves investors with a predefined share of up to a predetermined amount of the company’s revenues.

This form of revenue sharing leads to very flexible financing costs for a social enterprise, especially in the initial stages. The limitation of payments and very flexible repayment options, as well as increased sales, will keep valuable liquidity in the company which can be invested in the expansion of business activities. The social mission and the scaling of the business model are substantially supported by the chosen financial instrument.

The international legal consulting firm Hogan Lovells accompanied this transaction as a pro-bono consultant. Key aspects and components of the financing contract are available as an open source document from the FASE website for adaptation by other social enterprises and social investors.

About the authors: Ellinor Dienst started the Financing Agency for Social Entrepreneurship together with Dr Markus Freiburg in February 2013. Markus studied Economics at Witten/Herdecke (Dipl’k.) and Cambridge University (M.Phil) and promoted at the WHU Koblenz on investments by institutional investors in Private-Equity-Funds (Dr. rer. pol.). Markus has over seven years’ experience as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company, where he spent more than four years doing pro-bono consulting for social entrepreneurs. Ellinor studied in Lausanne and Oxford University, completing a degree in Hotel & Restaurant management. After a career in marketing for luxury goods, she worked as an independent marketing and fundraising consultant for social enterprises in Germany.

About Ashoka and the Social Business Angel Network: Ashoka is the world’s first and leading organization for the promotion of social entrepreneurship. It is supported by an international circle of successful entrepreneurs and leaders who also support Ashoka Fellows as mentors. Many of these sponsors are also interested in financing social enterprises through direct investment and acting as Social Business Angels: so the. Ashoka Angels Network was founded. Based on their personal investment preferences, the members of this “investment club” are regularly informed by the FASE of investment opportunities from the Ashoka environment and beyond, with outstanding social impact.

Learn more about Ashoka and FASE.

Seven Steps to Allocating More of Your Portfolio to Impact

Guest blog by En Lee and Sam Lindsay

For many investors, impact investing has remained largely confined to private investments. For this reason, impact investments may still account for only a small proportion of many portfolios.However, with new opportunities for impact investing now emerging across different asset classes, investors are beginning to allocate more of their assets to businesses that generate social and environmental outcomes. To encourage this move, the Investor Team for the Impact Investing Exchange Asia (IIX Asia) has come up with a simple 7-step process that helps investors and advisors assess investment portfolios and begin the process of shifting the emphasis in the direction of more impact investments.Step 1: Define Core Values and Mission

  • Identify core values, mission, country and sector preferences
  • Understand the motivation (e.g. preserving family legacy or instilling values in the next generation)

Step 2: Identify Target Impact Areas and Role of Investment

  • Identify your target outcomes and objectives (improving healthcare, empowering rural women through education)
  • Define the risk/return profile of your investments (wealth preservation, commercial returns etc.)

Step 3: Integrate Impact Allocation

  • Determine allocation across asset classes: cash, fixed income, public/private equity, real estate…
  • Distinguish between philanthropic and investment capital in the portfolio

Step 4: Evaluate and Select Investment Opportunities

  • Determine which investments should be non-impact, mission-related and mission-driven
  • Direct investments (e.g. private equity, debt, hybrids etc.)
  • Indirect investments (e.g. funds, funds of funds etc.)

Step 5: Implement a Strategy

  • Identify potential impact investment opportunities (e.g. by using a impact accelerator such as Impact Partners or a deal site like Maximpact)
  • Commence due diligence, structure investment, execute and close transaction and if necessary, post-deal monitoring (specialists can assist in these areas)

Step 6: Monitor, Analyze and Report Results

  • Measure financial, social and/or environmental returns
  • Insist on impact assessment report from a reputable assessor (professionals such as Shujog Impact Assessment can help)
  • Identify a suitable impact methodology for the identified outcomes (e.g. GIIRS)

Step 7: Consider Changes in Objectives, Strategy and Managers

  • Revisit country and sector focus
  • Evaluate investment financial and social/environmental performance
  • Assess asset allocation, risk/return profile and intended social and environmental outcomes

A version of this blog was first published in the IIX Asia digital publication, Impact Quarterly.


About the Authors:
En Lee is Co-Head, Asia Pacific for LGT Venture Philanthropy, a global impact investor supporting organisations with outstanding social and environmental impact. He is the former Director and Head of Investor Team at Impact Investment Exchange Asia. Sam Lindsay is a consultant for the Aligned Network and a former Investor Team Member at IIX Asia.


About IIX Asia:
Impact Investment Exchange Asia (IIX Asia) is the world’s first public trading platform dedicated to connecting social enterprises with mission-aligned investment.


Image credit: 123RF

Services to Impact Funds: Why Data Can’t Give Us Everything We Need

By Marta Maretich

The impact investing sector is developing at an amazing rate and so are the needs of impact funds, investors, advisors and companies. As we move rapidly beyond the early development stages, services are starting to emerge as an important theme for 2014.

A recent article charted one aspect of the emerging trend. BCorp plan to use their data aggregation systems as a basis for providing a variety of services to the sector. The introduction of BAnalytics, a merger between the investment management tool Pulse and BCorp’s GIIRS, will allow the group to offer a range of data-based services including rating, evaluation and analysis.

BCorp is following in the footsteps of traditional financial services industry where advances in technology have delivered the ability to manage mind-blowing amounts of live data; and turn profits from them. As traditional financial service providers have discovered to their joy, data, crunched at this speed and at this scale, has the power to transform business performance; and data aggregation and analysis is itself big business for firms who make wrangling data their focus.

BCorp’s move toward offering data-based services is a welcome sign of a maturing impact marketplace and it indicates the shape of things to come. Fund and company ratings are needed to establish standards in the sector; benchmarking holds out the hope of creating comparisons, while more transparency can do no harm. We’d be remiss not to develop these systems.

Yet for now the most important application of data may be that it proves convincing to investors. Mainstream investors, who include large institutional investors and foundations, could unlock huge amounts of capital provided they can be persuaded to trust in the impact approach. Data is reassuring both to them and to the financial professionals who advise them, according to research by the WEF.

However, although important, data-based services won’t offer everything the impact sector needs to grow today. The nature and ecosystem of impact investing makes it different from traditional investing in fundamental ways; and this will drive the need for a whole range of specialist services not necessarily dependent on data.

Beyond data-based services

Take metrics for example.

Impact businesses and funds must build social and environmental impact metrics into their plans along with all the usual financial ones, correct? Straight financial metrics are no mystery to most businesspeople and financiers; years of trial and error have taught us how to “do” them. The same can’t be said for social and environmental impact metrics, which have been around for a relatively short time.

The recent emergence of IRIS as the leading measurement system, developed by GIIN and now administered, along with GIIRS and PULSE, though BCorp, means that the sector now has access to tools for measurement. (Whether it’s a good idea to make a single metrics approach so dominant at this early stage is a question we won’t tackle here.)

However, the mere existence of IRIS doesn’t mean impact measurement is now taken care of; and here is where the need for services comes in: How do impact enterprises and funds use IRIS? How do they know which measures to choose from the long list? How do they embed impact metrics into their business plans and their operations? How do they translate these processes across geographies and cultures?

The answer is that many will need expert help to set up impact data collection, reporting and analysis. There is a role for impact metrics specialists who can help establish processes and create systems that deliver accurate impact information while supporting business objectives.

Call in the specialists

This is only a small example of the kind of specialist service impact sector businesses and funds will need as the sector takes off, “specialist” being the operative word here.

Impact investing is a new sector; and it’s a complex one due to the range of actors and agencies involved. Hybrid financial arrangements are common and collaborative partnerships, blending public, private, philanthropic and government capital, are increasingly seen. Impact businesses often pass through a number of agencies, including philanthropic intermediaries, on their way to market viability and there is a growing spectrum of kinds, flavors, types and sizes of impact businesses.

Fund managers, investors and financial advisors; even very clever ones; will need help navigating this expanding field of opportunity. Impact business people will need access to expertise as they grow their businesses in a multi-stakeholder context and roll them out across the globe.

In both cases, having access to specialists; that is, experts who understand the unique requirements of impact investing; will be a decisive factor in success. Media, finance, legal, governance, research, scientific, managerial and HR expertise, with a spin on impact, will all be in demand, as will specialists capable of working in cross-sector partnerships and internationally.

Finding the expertise we need

Where will these experts come from? Some will come from the sector itself. Graduate programs are already incorporating social investing into their curriculi and a generation of “multilingual” professionals is beginning to emerge. These new impact investing leaders will understand the language of finance as well as they do that of social and environmental benefit. Their contribution will undoubtedly fill some of the sector’s need for services, but not all.

In the immediate future, the impact investing sector will need to reach out to the wider finance and business community to find the services it needs to grow. There will be a role for agencies who can help impact investing financiers and businesses source expertise from a pool of impact-able specialists in a range of fields. As the sector continues to become more accepted by the mainstream, and the needs of impact finance and business become better understood, this pool should become larger and better adapted to meet the needs of impact. The challenge lies in finding a way to give the sector easy access to the expertise it needs now.

So, data, though essential, will not provide us with all the answers. Instituting systems for capturing and analyzing data (both financial and social) is a step in the right direction but there is a risk that the focus on data and data-driven services may distract us from the real task at hand: building impact businesses and funds that deliver tangible social and environmental benefit along with financial profit. To do this will take huge amounts of human ingenuity, innovation, “hard” as well as “soft” expertise; and, yes, data too.

[Image credit: 123RF ]

 

 

Calling All Experts: Register Now!

Maximpact invites experts and consultants from all industries, positions and sectors of focus to register now as members of our exciting new project development area, Maximpact Eco.

We are building a worldwide network of experts and consultants focused on delivering specialized services and online resources for impact and sustainable enterprises and projects.

At the moment we are in the process of collecting early registrations, which are free of charge (until further notice).

Experts who register early will:

– Benefit from the launch of our new project development area
– Be invited to provide feedback on our beta version of the Experts Network
– Connect with other high-profile experts in similar areas of expertise
– Have access to additional services such as exposure to Maximpact’s global media and promotional networks.

And finally as a member of Maximpact Experts Network you will also be able to list your services and connect with new clients, collaborators and business opportunities from across the growing impact sector.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Register and list your services
– Receive and review inquiries
– Apply for the position
– Get selected
– Negotiate your own terms
– Benefit from a global network

WHO CAN JOIN?

Anyone who has experience providing specialized services and online resources for impact and sustainable enterprises and projects.

Our network is used by recruiters, companies, ventures, projects, consultants and consulting companies, market researchers, managers, financial professionals, lawyers, institutional and individual investors, engineers, scientists, writers and journalists, programmers, website designers, creative designers, governments and non-profit organizations, agriculture, energy, cleantech, CSR, environment professionals and many others. If you are unsure whether you fit the profile just ask and we will be happy to help.

WHY SHOULD I JOIN?

– Benefit from new global business opportunities
– Access projects from all sectors and sizes
– Search and connect with new clients
– Negotiate your own terms and conditions
– Join research and development projects in your specific areas of focus
– Benefit from global exposure
– Join projects of your choice: early-, mid- and late- stage ventures
– Search over 1500 global business opportunities already in the Maximpact network

So help us make our network even stronger, join now and make sure you’re part of global impact equation.

Maximpact: Bringing the Impact Sector Together

At Maximpact,we pride ourselves on our inclusive approach to impact investing. An important part of our mission is to strengthen the sector by providing a place where a wide range of impact players can come together and make impact deals. To make this happen more effectively, we’ve adopted a very broad definition of impact investing, creating a “big tent” that invites a diverse range of players under the same roof. The chart above shows how different types of impact actors are able to come together on Maximpact.

Our strategy seems to be working. Today, Maximpact welcomes funders, intermediaries and entrepreneurs from every part of the world and every corner of the impact sector. Some are veteran funders and intermediaries who have supported the idea of impact since the beginning. Others are new to impact and just discovering its potential. The chart also shows some of the new types of players that are entering the field, notably from the corporate social responsibility (CSR), eco and green technology, and the philanthropy sectors.

For Maximpact, this is good news. We believe that a greater variety of players in the impact arena will lead to better deal flow and a faster pace of innovation. In the meantime, we do our best to maintain the “big tent”, making sure all our users are discovering a world of new impact possibilities on our ever-expanding global platform.

The Maximpact Collaborative Approach – How it works

At the time of registration, users will be asked to identify them selves with a sector group (impact, philanthropy, CSR or eco; green) then select a user group(entrepreneur, intermediary or fund). Different types of users have different rights and levels of access to the Maximpact platform.

Definitions

  • Entrepreneurs:Entrepreneurs and companies
  • Intermediaries: Angel investors, social enterprise accelerators,incubators, venture capital groups, social venture networks and others
  • Funds: Investment funds, family offices,foundations,organizations, NGOs, companies, asset managers and others

Every registrant is vetted by Maximpact and best efforts are made to certify and qualify each applicant before access is permitted.Password access enables registered users to list and search for deals and ventures according to their access rights.When a deal or venture is listed, the listing party has an opportunity to identify the kind of funders they wish to attract (impact, philanthropy, CSR and/or eco & green). This allows users to filter and find like-minded funding matches more easily. However, it does not exclude deals from being searched by other types of funders that were not selected.

The hope of Maximpact is that all users will at some point reach out beyond their group and seek collaborative opportunities with others to create the biggest impact for us all.