2012 BIG SOCIETY CAPITAL
As Resonance celebrates its 20th Anniversary this year, we would like to wish Happy Birthday to an organisation that is also celebrating a significant milestone, and which has played a huge part in the Resonance story – HAPPY 10TH ANNIVERSARY Big Society Capital!
One of Big Society Capital’s (BSC) earliest investments was into our Affordable Homes Rental Fund, which helped community groups build affordable homes. It followed this with a significant investment into our first impact property fund, Real Lettings Property Fund1 where we partnered with St Mungo’s to deliver homes to individuals and families that were in housing crisis, often in unsuitable temporary accommodation.
That investment from Big Society Capital was really significant as it gave Resonance the opportunity to prove that an impact property fund targeting homelessness worked. It set us on our journey from one homelessness property fund, to where we are today – seven impact property funds focusing on three impact strategies homelessness, learning disability and vulnerable women. To date the funds have provided homes for 3,000+ people in 1,000+ homes.
In our Twenty Years of Impact Book Anna Shiel, Head of Origination at BSC, shares her reflections of the Resonance / Big Society Capital relationship.
My first encounter with Resonance was when they created the pioneering Real Lettings Property Fund in 2012. Big Society Capital (BSC) was only a year old and personally I was definitely still at the “discovery” stage: finding out more about the range of impact investing products, impact business models - and most importantly, where impact investment could play the greatest role in actually making a difference to the social challenges we face.
So I was both new to the market and had a lot to learn….and the Real Lettings Property Fund was something that sat outside what currently existed in the impact investing market. In fact, I’d have to admit that social property funds weren’t really even an option we’d conceived of!
But what stood out about the fund were three things:
In the years that followed our initial investment into Real Lettings, we continued to see Resonance evolve and grow its impact through:
To see those pioneering ideas grow and mobilise other support along with capital to do so – for example, from an initial £16m property fund to over £300m property assets under management now – has been truly impressive. But what has been even more inspiring is the way Resonance has built learning about impact into all that it does. So the focus of its impact reporting on homelessness has always been to understand and respond to the challenges – such as how quickly people can move-on in the current housing market - as much as to build on what is working well. And in the nearly ten years of working together, we’ve got to know each other far better. For me, it is a relationship based on trust, discovery, challenge and learning. I’ve personally learnt a huge amount from Daniel, Simon and the whole team: for example, about the importance of starting with the social issue and the partner, and how to build a fund manager with purpose at its core.
And our shared sense of purpose has led to some of what I’ve particularly enjoyed in recent years; being able to collaborate with the Resonance team to respond to emerging needs, for example, the launch of the Resonance Everyone In Fund in London to help respond to the immense pressures to find homes for people following lockdown, and the Women in Safe Homes fund.
When I think about Resonance’s impact, it really is multi-faceted:
All of that shows how central Resonance is to the development of the impact investing market in the UK and to what all of this must and does add up to: the impact it is having in communities and for vulnerable people across the UK.
“To see those pioneering ideas grow and mobilise other
support along with capital to do so – for example, from
an initial £16m property fund to over £300m assets under
Looking into the future, part of the offer of impact investment is that it can unlock the resources we need as a country to tackle some of the social issues so apparent today. While these challenges like homelessness certainly can’t be met without public and philanthropic funding, they are also so great that private capital is also needed where it can be suitably aligned with the needs of impact-led enterprises. Thanks to the work and achievements of pioneers like Resonance, the impact investing context we operate in looks very different to the one I entered ten years ago – and I suspect even more different to when Daniel created Resonance twenty years ago! There are now many more investors seeking to integrate purpose into their organisations and impact into their investment decisions, to find suitable impact investments – and a growing awareness on the part of policymakers of how impact investment can be an important tool in the toolkit. So we have an opportunity, but also a challenge. The opportunity is that we have far more investors ready and willing to engage, learn and ultimately shift some of their assumptions, behaviours and investment decisions towards purpose. The risk is that we are swept along in a wave of capital that becomes increasingly disconnected from the real impact needed in communities – even with the best of intentions. Our job as impact investors therefore is to harness that interest and that capital in order to truly deliver on the purpose that we share. My belief is that Resonance’s combination of purpose, partnership and learning can be a beacon for how this ought to be done.
If you’d like to read more about our twenty years of impact, you can download the book here.
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Resonance Limited is a company registered in England and Wales no. 04418625
Resonance Impact Investment Limited, a subsidiary of Resonance Limited, is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Firm number 588462.
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