The Social Investment Intelligence Network (Q1 – 2018 report)

Mhor Collective

Year of publication
The Social Investment Intelligence Network

There’s no shortage of reports about social investment but most of these reports are written from the perspectives of investors and social investment leaders. Until now. The Social Investment Intelligence Network (SIIN) is a new initiative that reports on experiences of and demand for social investment from the investee point of view. SIIN brings together a panel of 12 charity and social enterprise leaders from a broad range of social sectors and locations within the UK. The network is funded by the Connect Fund and co-ordinated by Social Spider CIC, a social enterprise that helps people make change happen through research, consultancy, mental health and community media, and Dan Gregory, independent social economy researcher at Common Capital.

While this first SIIN report provides a broad overview of panelists’ experiences of and concerns about the social investment market, future meetings and reports will focus in more depth on key themes including (the activity formerly known as) investment readiness and the nature of demand for risk finance from charities and social enterprises.

Some key findings were:

  • Panel members were concerned by the limited operational capacity of specialist social banks which include Triodos, Charity Bank and Unity Trust.
  • Although there was support for the positive impact and ethos of these banks, the lack of functionality in some instances meant that running financial activities proved more time-consuming than with high-street banks.
  • Experiences of intermediary social investors such as Big Issue Invest and CAF Venturesome – organisations which receive funding from large wholesale funders and invest smaller amounts to frontline organisations – were mixed. Experiences pointed towards a general lack of consistency when receiving investment offers with (perhaps unsurprisingly) unsecured finance being hardest to find.
  • The role of regionally-focused funders including Key Fund and Social Investment Scotland was viewed positively, as interactions generally seemed to be enhanced by stronger engagement with projects.
  • Panel members viewed race, gender and age as a potential barrier to obtaining investment.
  • Panel members found that social investment deals still seemed to boil down to financial risk with too little emphasis on the social impact that would distinguish social investment from mainstream finance.
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