Kia ora koutou,

A few final thoughts from three more of the conference workshops – and a ‘Dragon’s Den’ event. 

Scaling social businesses - workshop

As head of a social business, this workshop was a natural choice for me. The workshop was built around three main themes: the needs of scaling social businesses, the obstacles they face especially when trying to internationalise, and how Venture Philanthropy can boost the creation of a supportive scaling infrastructure.

Key insights

• Scaling models evolved from fairly traditional approaches to more agile flexible approaches as intermediaries and investors learn through experience
• For some staying small is the right path. For others, scale brings greater impact
• Social businesses need to build capacity to be able to influence the system and policy. 
• It’s not what you do that distinguishes you – it’s what your ‘unique impact’ is.

Key links

• Ann Branch, Head of the ‘Job Creation’ unit in the ‘Skills’ Directorate, European Commission
• Olivier Kayser, Founder and Managing Director, Hystra 
• Richard Catherall, Executive Director, Katarsis Ventures @RJCatherall 
• Katherine Danton, Director of Strategy and Influence, UnLtd

Dragon’s Den

The “Dragon’s Den or Shark Tank” session reversed the usual order of those who want the money pitching to those who have it. The EVPA Dragon’s Den saw Social Investors (SI) /Venture Philanthropists (VP) pitch to an all-star cast of social entrepreneurs and social purpose organisations (SPO) through a series of ‘dates’. 

Caroline Mason of the Esmee Fairburn Foundation ( shared her ideas on how to play the social investment dating game. Some of her suggestions for partners included:
• Be open about what you are prepared to commit
• Clarify expectations, be honest, keep talking
• Think about how to exit with grace and respect if it doesn’t work out
• Look at how important non-financial support can be, and the role networks of partners could play with pro-bono support and advice.

General concepts of what works in social investment relationships included:
• Looking for aligned social missions and impacts
• Focus on the relationships and have clear mutual expectations
• Use value-add models – funding plus
• Monitor and measure the impact of the investment relationship as well as societal impact – and co-design

Key links

• Dorothee Vogt, Director of Business Development, Germany 
• Michelle McCrindle, Chief Executive, The Food Train 
• Arnaud Mourot, Co-Directeur, Ashoka Europe 
• Christian Vanizette, Co-Founder, Make Sense 
• Frederico Costa, CEO, SEA -Social Entrepreneurs Agency

What does technology mean for venture philanthropy - workshop

This session looked how despite being resistant to tech-led innovations the philanthropy space has already been “tech-invaded”. It focused on how philanthropy can use technology to enhance outreach and effectiveness

Key insights

• There are many online examples of technology creating new platforms for social enterprise, such as which provides online support for early stage start-ups by matching mentors with businesses
• Online tools can support global development, capacity building, replication, increase accessibility for support 
• We won’t know where technology will be in ten years - so our business models and investment models need to continually evolve and change to stay ahead
• Questions for us to consider; what is our stance on data ? Use of data? What are our principles as a social sector; how can we support a human rights approach to data? How can we be transparent with our recipients about the data we collect and how we are using it? How do we tell them what impact this data has had - how we’ve used it (positively) to demonstrate impact ? 
• There is an opportunity for our sector to engage with the technology sector, to co-design and prototype
• We need to be ‘fast followers’ in this space. 

Key links:

• New Philanthropy Capital

Social Impact Metrics 2.0 - from measuring to managing impact - workshop

Impact Management is a major interest for both the philanthropic sector and a focus for the Government’s social investment unit. It is one of the three key practices of venture philanthropy. This workshop looked at how the work of the funder and the investee can be aligned towards the same goals.

Key insights

• There is an increasing focus on measurement of impact. There are great on-line tools and reports available across philanthropic funders and grantees. EVPA’s knowledge centre holds resources for members.
• We need to build support networks for learning, capacity building, training, mentoring, assurance
• The challenge is to have a clear plan for capturing impact; what’s worth focusing on rather than trying to evaluate impact for everything
• As funders we need to make sure we don’t make impact measurement a burden. What is measured has to be of value to the participants and end users.

Key links

• Jeremy Nicholls, CEO, Social Value International 
• Margot Quaegebeur, Impact Investing Manager, Anthos Fund and Asset 
• Amanda Feldman, Director, Bridges’ Impact+ team 
• Laurence Mehaignerie, President, Citizen Capital