European Venture Philanthropy Association

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Member Q&A corner – Investir & +

Posted on by EVPA

As a membership organisation we value the contribution that each organisation brings to the network. Therefore we would like to highlight one of our new members and the great work they do.

This month we put our newest member Investir&+ “in the spotlight” and learn about their aim, how they work and what they would like to learn from the EVPA network. Thanks to Madeleine Ceyrac, Deputy Chief Executive, for answering our questions.

Q&A

1. Please tell us a little bit about your history and your aims

2. What type of organisations do you mostly invest in? And how do you support them?

3. Why have you decided to use a venture philanthropy approach?

4. What would you like to gain from EVPA membership and what are you mostly looking forward to?

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1. Please tell us a little bit about your history and your aims

Investir & + results from the merger of two impact investing companies. Our DNA, convictions and ambitions were close, our expertise complementary, and we recently decided to unite our human and financial resources. We know that being a quality impact investor is not an easy challenge, and we believe that only a strong team can reach it.

Founding members and members of the executive team are all entrepreneurs and leaders from the social or business sectors. We share the idea that our political, social or financial systems have shown some limits and failures and we are convinced that businesses can create precious wealth – not only economic but also social and societal. We also believe that social entrepreneurscan develop sustainable solutions to our main societal issues: education, health, integration, social links, housing etc. That is why we encourage the development of a “third way”: social entrepreneurship.

Regarding our aims and missions, it is both to support the scaling-up of the social entrepreneurship sector, and to bring “traditional” investors and philanthropists to impact investing. In order to achieve it, we pursue two mains targets: the first one is to identify, select and support social entrepreneurs with high social impact potential and economically sustainable projects. The second one is to demonstrate, thanks to successfully supported projects, that the business model of social enterprises is competitive, sustainable and effective.

2. What type of organisations do you mostly invest in? And how do you support them?

Investir & + wants to back enterprises that put social impact at the heart of their mission, consider their social commitment as a source of competitive advantage, and have a sustainable business model.

We give priority to commercial businesses (SA, SAS, SARL), but we will also consider cooperatives or charities as long as they have the ability and ambition to become self-financing over the mid/long term.

Our key words are “proximity”, patience and professionalism, and we suggest to our investees long term partnerships (for a minimum of 5-7 years) based on financial and strategic support. To ensure quality, we will make a limited number of investments and will assign two people to each investment: one coach in charge of supporting the entrepreneur, and one person sitting on the main governance body, looking after the business and financial side of the investment.
We will also strive to provide our investees with a full range of pro bono expertise such as HR, legal, accounting, management, marketing, communication etc.

Capability support is not only an ambition but a condition to our investment.

3. Why have you decided to use a venture philanthropy approach?

Most would believe that one cannot be both generous and demanding, ambitious and humble, empathetic and rigorous, competent and committed, humanist and pragmatic…  We believe it is possible and want to reconcile these paradoxes, notably by helping social enterprises to become more professionals and the traditional economy more human.

The whole point of creating Investir &+ is indeed to demonstrate that the social entrepreneurship sector can be sustainable – that one can invest into it and get a return – albeit limited – on their investment, and a proven social impact.

In our philosophy, venture philanthropy means bringing the best of venture capitalism (methodologies, process, expertise, demand etc.) to social enterprises. Our“offer” to investees: a systematic combination of financial facilities and human support – in our opinion this is the best way to lead them to a real success.

4. What would you like to gain from EVPA membership and what are you mostly looking forward to?

We are looking forward to becoming a prominent actor of European Impact Investing!

Being a member of the EVPA is a great opportunity for us to share our reflections, questions and challenges with actors of the same sector dealing with similar issues. As a newcomer, we have much to learn from experienced social investment practitioners, and we believe that networking as well as site visits and the activities of EVPA, will help us to gain concrete knowledge and learn about best practices of the sector.

Having been at the last EVPA Annual Conference in Turin, we also think that meetings and forums are a great opportunity to network with other EVPA members and to create informal links with them.  And we are looking forward to that too.

Would you like to learn more about Investir &+? Madeleine Ceyrac will be happy to answer your questions. You can contact her at madeleine.ceyrac@investiretplus.com.

For further information on EVPA membership, please visit www.evpa.eu.com/membership or get in touch with our membership services coordinator Julia Meuter (jmeuter@evpa.eu.com)

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