At our recent South West Marketplace event in Bristol, there was an interesting discussion and Q&A session during the evening hosted by Resonance Investment Manager Katalin Juhász. She was joined on stage by Richard Elliot, an early investor in the Resonance South West SITR Fund, and James Evans, Chief Executive of Community Mentoring and Support (CMAS).
The discussion covered their backgrounds and routes into social enterprise and social impact investing and in particular, why they chose the Resonance South West SITR Fund from the perspective of both investor and investee.
Katalin Juhász started the discussion by asking James and Richard if they could both summarise their backgrounds.
James explained how he has been working for CMAS for six years and has recently been appointed CEO. CMAS was formed in 2013 and operates across the South West as a social enterprise that exists to meet unmet needs for young people, their families and the professionals who work with them. It provides commissioned youth clubs and youth projects on behalf of County, Town and Parish Councils, and youth committees in local areas; provides top quality professional mentoring for young people who have additional needs and provides alternative education for young people who, for a variety of reason, are not accessing mainstream schooling.
Richard was an early investor into the Resonance South West SITR Fund. He explained how he and his family and close friends relocated to the West Country and created a number of social enterprises in the hospitality, renewable energy and social housing sectors. They also set up a charitable foundation with two main aims; to support displaced people and to champion climate change action.
Why social impact investment/investing?
James explained: “The social impact investment CAMS has received has enabled us to create growth and develop what we’re good at with real support, encouragement and inspiration from the Resonance team.”
Richard agreed that for him, and the work that he and his colleagues do, a mid to longer term investment commitment – with social impact – was a priority: “I’m interested in money doing some fantastic good, with the return that we need and the tax relief to de-risk it!”.
Why invest in the Resonance South West SITR Fund?
For Richard the appeal was threefold: “We liked the regional focus of this fund, the fact that our investment would have a positive impact and we really liked that Resonance would be spreading our investment across a range of wonderful organisations. For us, it was not just about the money; it was about the opportunity for our investment to do incredible good in terms of social transformation and in tackling poverty – this was an incredible opportunity - so that, for us, was a real draw in terms of investing.”
When you hit difficult times in your journeys running social enterprises, what did you call upon internally to get through this?
James: “The work we do is about values and as an organisation we are interested in enabling transformation – it can be tough at times so difficulties come as no surprise. We can manage and cope with this thanks to the strong support networks we’ve built around us; some of these are informal networks – friends and family – whilst some are more formal and a real source of strength. This includes both the Resonance SITR Fund investment as well as the Resonance team who are a huge part of our support network. Finally, knowing that CMAS is having a genuinely positive impact on young people’s lives is something we draw strength from.”
James went on to explain how the very fact that the investment CMAS has received has come from a social impact perspective means that this is also a source of strength: “The fact that someone has chosen to invest in social impact via the Resonance South West SITR Fund means that they are investing for purpose and that they place value in that investment. Their values are aligned to those of the social enterprises they are investing in, helping social enterprises grow, so for me, this feels very much like another source of support and strength.”
Richard explained how he and his colleagues also draw on their core values to help them through tougher times: “There have been various pressures on us as a team, from financial to managing various relationships and personality types, so for us, having strong values became our compass in the early days. We also undertook personality profiling which was a fun but actually key tool that has helped us manage occasional difficulties – by identifying areas of strength (and weakness!).”
If you’re interested in helping to dismantle poverty and inequality and would like to know more about either investing for impact via one of our regional SITR Funds or you’re a social enterprise looking for investment, please click here.
To find out more about the Resonance South West SITR Fund click here.
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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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