On Thursday last week the Rt Hon Francis Maude, the Minister for Cabinet Office, hosted an Angels for Good event at number 11 Downing Street to introduce current and prospective social angel investors to social entrepreneurs and members of the angel.
Martin Lewis of Money Saving Expert introduced the Minister, who opened with a speech about the potential of social investment across the spectrum, how much the current government has done to underpin the development of the sector and the importance of angels and seed investment in allowing organisations to scale. At least half of the angels in the room were new to social investment, so the Minister indicated a few examples of the range of social investments available in the current market, as well as highlighting the newly-passed Social Investment Tax Relief, about which you can find out more elsewhere on our website.
Martin then interviewed two recipients of social investment, along with one of the social angel investors who had provided capital. The first was Tom Hooper of Third Space Learning, which works with primary schools to help raise numeracy standards, accelerating classroom performance with targeted one-to-one intervention programmes delivered over the internet. Third Space Learning has received investment from social angel investors as well as social sector incubators, funded by the Cabinet Office. One of Tom’s investors, Meganne Houghton Berry, was also there to discuss how she saw her investment in Third Space Learning relative to her other investments. Tom emphasised that whilst he expects his investors to make money, he also knows they understand that the motivation behind the company was the diagnosis of a social problem and the innovation of an appropriate solution. He has also benefited from the networks and expertise of his investors, which will help him scale the business; he reminded us of the tremendous size of, for example, the education and healthcare budgets in the UK and used this to illustrate the fact that social enterprise isn’t a small, niche area and scale is both achievable and desirable, particularly to the extent that it can leverage social impact.
Andy Walker from FC United of Manchester then talked about the funding they have raised from social investors (from loan notes and community shares) towards building a stadium to provide infrastructure for their non-profit community football club. He also talked about how other football clubs, including Portsmouth, whose Pompey Supporters Trust has bought the club out of bankruptcy, have been utilising crowdfunding to raise money. Both recipients of investment stressed the huge value of having investors who are aligned with the core mission of the organisation.
Deborah Meaden gave a keynote speech about her understanding of what constitutes social investment, illustrating the breadth of the term. She talked about the social responsibility of angel investors to use their wealth to create more than simply more capital, and closed the speech by inviting everyone gathered to pledge to spread the word about social investment; to educate themselves about social investment; and to make a social investment for their own portfolio.
Big Society Capital was delighted to be involved in the organisation of an event which illuminated and opened up this exciting corner of social investment.