Investing for Impact Series

Reflections of Season 1 of the Investing for Impact Series
Online Meeting

In February 2022 the Social Impact Investment Network of South Australia (SIINSA) and the Social Enterprise Finance Australia (SEFA) jointly delivered Season One of the 2022 Investing for Impact series.

The three-part series included two virtual sessions, Reflections from purpose-driven organisations using impact capital as a tool and Insights from purpose-driven organisations on how to become investment ready, and one in-person session, Sharing different perspectives of a blended capital collaboration where we were lucky enough to hold a talking circle at Inparilla and dive into learning more about impact investing together.

In session one, hosted by SEFA’s Hanna Ebeling who joined us from Gadigal Lands with insights and discussion from Louise Nobes, 42 Adelaide and Sarah Gun, GOGO Events & GOGO Foundation we looked at how two social enterprises had leveraged different types of capital to drive their initiatives forward. We had an insightful discussion around risk, accountability, and human behaviour when thinking about debt, investment, and grants.

Key Takeaways from this session included:

  • Leveraging ‘debt’ to attract investment and unlock future potential

  • Determining what type of capital is best at each stage of your project

  • How diversified income streams can reduce reliance, increase investor confidence, and empower you through the process

  • Encouraging investors to consider payment by results – commonly seen in many impact bonds

In final closing our panellists had the following reflections and advice:

  • It’s a learning journey if you can, surround yourself with peers to co-learn and get support.

  • It’s valuable to have an idea of what funds and options sit right with your business model at what time, but there is also value in being intuitive and searching for the right fit.

 

Session two was hosted by SIINSA’s own Bjorn Everts, also representing the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC) with Skye O’Meara, Manager of the APY Art Centre Collective (APY AC). During the session Skye took us on a journey of the establishment of the collective and an exploration of what happens when you bravely stick with an idea, even when coming up against the people who say, ‘that’s just not how it’s done”, “we’ve never done it that way before”, or simply “it can’t be done”.

The Art Collective is a group of 11 Indigenous-owned and -governed enterprises, based in the Anangu Pitjantjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands. In APY communities, the art centres are the only source of non-government income and provide an opportunity for Anangu people to be paid for culturally safe and affirming work.

In her retelling of the establishment of the collective, its massive growth and increased international profile over the past few years, Skye reflected on three key learnings:

 

1. Know what you are in the impact space

It’s important when you’re in the impact space to find out what you are, a social enterprise, a for-good business, fee for service etc. because once you know what you are you can become more intentional when it comes to establishing the internal structures required to become investment ready.

2. Find values aligned partners

Skye explored two key relationships with the ILSC and Westpac and how these served to fill gaps in their knowledge of the investing space, help them to navigate and network with investors and be ready to seize opportunities when investment was on offer.

3. Recognise when you’re not going to get someone to ‘yes’

There’s real strength in tenacity and a great quote from the night was “It was a clear no, but I was receiving it as a maybe”. When seeking investment, it can be hard to know when you just need to repackage something, provide another layer of accountability, or apply a different lens to the proposal to get someone from a no to a maybe, but it can be equally challenging to recognise when it’s just not going to happen. This can be a cause of burnout for those working in the social impact space, especially when we feel a sense of responsibility to the communities we work with. A great reminder from this session is that it’s ok to step away from a conversation with someone that’s just not into you.

The closing session brought together Andrew Plastow, Head of School and Catherine Baldwin, Board Chair of Ngutu College, a culturally affirming school in which Aboriginal knowledges are seamlessly integrated with the formal curriculum and Pauly Vanderbergh, Director of 100 per cent Indigenous-owned commercial fishing venture Wanna Mar. Hosted by Jacob Habner of the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation on Kaurna Yerta, session three delved into the ‘becoming investment ready journey’, focussing on those final few months as the wheels begin to turn and it becomes a juggling act of sequencing multiple, sometimes conflicting processes.

Key Takeaways from this session included:

  • Bringing in the right experience at the right time

  • The importance of a concise investment proposal and clear concept

  • Tranching down the vision or the big dream to enable people to see the pieces and the impact they could contribute to

  • Being open and adaptive to re-pitching your expectations around what is required to get operational

  • Knowing when and how to push back on funder requirements

  • Finding your allies and applying a networked approach

  • Reflecting on your learnings and finding ways to share your experiences to support others in the space

In final closing reflections our panellists had the following advice when becoming investment ready:

  • Some of the best social impact enterprises are the ones that are not yet investment ready – you’ve got to be willing to go on the whole journey.

  • Seek out supporters and peers in the space to be your critical friends and accountability support.

  • See the value in measurement and reporting and capturing impact as something to further your work and not just a requirement.

If you missed the SIINSA Learning Series Season One check out the recordings of the sessions.

 

SIINSA will be hosting further Investing for Impact series in 2022.

Stay tuned via our SIINSA Events page, social media or sign up to our newsletter to be informed as information becomes available