“Bristol Dismantling Poverty One Investment at a Time”

Resonance managing director Daniel Brewer, reflects on the first ‘Fund’s Annual Marketplace Event’ held in Bristol recently, where investees and investors came together to mark the publication of the Resonance Bristol Social Investment Tax Relief Fund’s first Social Impact Report.

It has long been an ambition of mine to have an annual marketplace event where social enterprises are brought together in a room with the individual investors who have backed them. It’s not just about the information sharing, but deepening connections, learning and synergies that come about through people hearing from each other first hand. Last week that vision was fulfilled. With nearly 100 people in a room, we heard from 4 of the 5 social enterprises which have cumulatively received £0.9m from the Resonance Bristol SITR fund in its first year. Our thanks to the 70 investors and the 11 IFAs and Wealth Managers (so far!) who have backed this first cohort of amazing social enterprises. Whilst our portfolio is strongly diverse (in terms of sector, business model, stage of growth), each enterprise helps, in their various ingenious ways, to dismantle poverty across the Bristol city region.

This £0.9m investment has been instrumental in unlocking £1.1m of co-investment from other sources, as well as a small number of grants (both pre and post deal) to secure essential support and advice.

Of course, it’s not just about the money. One of my favourite measures of our effectiveness, as a Fund Manager, is the number of introductions we make for the social enterprises we back (and some we’ve not yet invested in). This year the team have made 25 meaningful connections with customers, suppliers, non-exec directors, other investors and others. In fact I was delighted to hear that, even on the evening of our event, one of the social enterprises spotted a new way of working with one of the other investees whilst hearing their stories. It’s early days, but you can see more of our approach in the fund’s first Social Impact Report.

Resonance Bristol SITR Social Impact Report

But the comment that made me most proud was when one of the social enterprises explained to an investor how Resonance had pushed them to focus more intently on ways they could further deepen their social impact. We remain convinced that social enterprises measuring and reporting their impact is the single most effective commercial sales tool they have. As impact investors, we cannot and should not claim to have achieved the social impacts that our investee social enterprises deliver. However, we can construct our support and questioning to make sure that the social impact is embedded firmly at the centre of the commercial rationale that keeps these projects growing.

Of course, it was South Bristol Sports Centre’s (SBSC) Future Fives Youth Council who stole the show. Nothing quite captures what you mean by social impact than youngsters telling their own stories. Many of the room’s seasoned investors were moved near to tears, hearing how the Youth Council had developed in confidence after being given the trust to become the mentors of their younger peers. South Bristol’s youth are surely destined for greatness whilst James Edwards has a role to play!

Thank you to the many people who have helped over the past three years to bring such a diverse crowd of city shapers together in one room (and thanks to Bare Foods for the amazing canapés).

Next year, with twice the number of social enterprises and (hopefully) twice as many investors, we’ll start to see a dent on the inequality that persists in our cities.