Pioneers Post
social investment

Impact angel network takes wing in UK parliament

8 March 2012
Illustration of an angel investor

Money from the angels...

In fiscally constrained times, social enterprise offers a market-based solution to creating positive change. By leveraging capital from socially aware investors, we hope to provide social businesses and enterprises with the support they need to grow.
 
Rod Schwartz

Ambitious plans to link socially aware investors to great social businesses were launched in the UK this week in the form of a new 'impact angel network'.

Clearly Social Angels, launched in the House of Commons, aims to 'dramatically increase the flow of capital into businesses creating positive social impact'.

Rodney Schwartz, CEO of parent organisation ClearlySo, commented: 'In fiscally constrained times, social enterprise offers a market-based solution to creating positive change. By leveraging capital from socially aware investors, we hope to provide social businesses and enterprises with the support they need to grow.' 

Gathering together socially aware investors and giving them great social businesses to invest in is not a new idea, even in the UK. Social investment intermediary Equity Plus launched its own 'Social Enterprise Angel Network' back in 2008 – and its founding partners have been quietly linking 'secret millionaire' types with social enterprises for a while. ClearlySo itself has been doing the same in partnership with Coutts and others, and our own social investment conference, Good Deals, is based upon bringing social investors and social entrepreneurs together.

What does seem new is that Clearly Social Angels is injecting some fresh energy and providing a structure for capturing socially minded investors and forward thinking philanthropists – and offering them ready made deals. They get screened businesses, access to deal-flow, angel training and exclusive investment events. Unlike previous approaches, which have mainly been about bespoke deals with relatively intense brokerage and relationship management, this feels perhaps more like a boutique investment dating service backed up with great matching software.

Suzanne Biegel, formerly CEO of Investor Circle, will lead the first projects undertaken by the network. Speaking about the launch, her comments echoed the sentiments of many investors who have discovered an empathy in this space. 'What lights me up is getting to use my experience, contacts and capital to help businesses who are making a social and environmental impact,' she explained. 'It’s one of the best ways I can make a difference… by supporting businesses who can make social as well as financial returns.'
 
MP Chris White, whose Social Value Bill has just passed through the House of Lords, was hosting the event. He said: 'Social businesses and social enterprises are key because they combine the determination to tackle social ills with the innovation and professionalism of the private sector. They are, I believe, the best and possibly only chance of success. There are hundreds of examples of social entrepreneurs who are not only delivering profits, but changing lives and communities.'
 
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