Before looking forward to an exciting year ahead, we would like to highlight SI² Fund’s accomplishments and celebrate some of our portfolio companies’ achievements from 2017.
In 2017 we invested in Justice42, a social business based in the Netherlands that works towards the 16th Sustainable Development Goal of the UN (peace, justice & strong institutions). Justice42 develops dispute resolution services. The company recently launched an online tool (www.uitelkaar.nl) to help (ex-)partners in the resolution of their divorce. Justice42 helps to find the best solution for both the couple and their children. This is a change in dispute resolution which addresses important societal problems and lowers the costs related to a separation process. Justice42 will use the funding to grow the business and expand their services.
In December 2017 we announced our investment in Active Minds, a UK-based social business that works towards the 3rd Sustainable Development Goal (good health and well-being). Active Minds develops human-centered activity products and games for people living with dementia. The new funds will be used to accelerate Active Minds’ international growth, expand its product offering and achieve social impact at scale. The SI² Fund team will also assist Active Minds with the implementation of the SROI (Social Return On Investment) framework.
We not only added companies to our portfolio, some of our existing portfolio companies went through changes as well. In August 2017 Bubble Post was acquired by Bpost, the Belgian Post Group. The partnership was a great opportunity for Bubble Post and a perfect fit. The acquisition allows Bubble Post to scale its business and impact much faster and Bpost is able to accelerate its expansion and leadership position in eco- and congestion friendly delivery services. As with other business ventures, there are also risks for social enterprises where a combination of both internal and external factors have an influence on the success of the company. In July portfolio company Boobs ‘n’ Burps and in August FitClass were put into liquidation. Although the potential for high social impact was there, we didn’t see a sustainable, profitable business developing.
We continue to be amazed at the incredible hard work and determination of our social entrepreneurs, not to mention some of their great stories! Spacehive, part of our portfolio since August 2014, is the world’s first civic crowdfunding platform. In 2017, the company has seen considerable growth in the UK market. One of their remarkable stories of last year was a ground-breaking crowdfunding program, in partnership with the mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP). The program invited communities to come together and propose ideas to regenerate their local areas. In total, 25 community-led projects were selected and funded through this initiative.
2017 was a year in which we’ve seen social entrepreneurship and impact investing gaining more traction in the Benelux and the UK. Our pipeline has been growing with interesting new leads. We have added numerous new ventures to our prospect list of which some look very promising!
We organized three Sharing the Passion events in 2017. Two of them were set around a portfolio company: in June we visited Bluesquare’s office and in October we went to HiiL Foundation in the Hague to hear more about Justice42’s Uitelkaar. The third Sharing the Passion event took place in Transforma in Brussels and focussed on sharing experience about IT/development across portfolio companies.
Finally, our team also evolved with some new team members in 2017. Timothy Lambert came on board as our new investment analyst and has been working from Belgium since January 2017. He’s in charge of sourcing and screening new leads, contributing to structure deals and supporting portfolio companies. Jelena Jakulj joined our team in November as an investment manager based in Amsterdam. As such, she will contribute to expanding SI² Fund’s portfolio in the Netherlands. Finally Nicolas Lahaye joined our team in August as communication assistant, he’s in charge of the fund’s communication effort both online & offline.
Our 2018 resolutions
In 2017 we feel SI² Fund improved focus on achieving its mission. We’re thankful to our shareholders, portfolio companies and partners for this progress.
In 2018, we will focus on creating value with the existing portfolio companies. They all have significant potential which will take hard work to reach. We look forward to working with the companies to increase the impact in their respective fields.
Additionally we will continue our search and selection of high impact ventures, that can be added to the portfolio, and where we can add value to their growth and development as a societal impact business.
And last but not least, we plan to organise four Sharing the Passion events in 2018, to engage SI2 Fund shareholders and other relations that have an interest, with the social impact work of our portfolio companies.
We hope and believe that the impact we’re helping to create through our existing and future portfolio companies will continue to grow throughout 2018 and beyond.