The Many Faces of Social Enterprise
These events have proved highly successful so far for several reasons. First they provide businesses with what is a special opportunity – the chance to pitch to a room full of specially invited high net worth individuals each of whom had come looking to engage and invest with the social enterprise sector.
From the investors’ perspective, the evening not only presented them with a six high quality social businesses, but it also demonstrated the immense variety and scope of the sector. Each one was different, both in the social benefit they generate, and also their approach to the social enterprise sector.
In no particular order we had the following:
- Epona Limited: a Fairtrade fashion label that has been working with farmers in India providing a fair price and a 15% Fairtrade premium.
- Foundation 4 Life: an inspiring social enterprise that puts ex-offenders at the heart of its attempts to reduce youth crime.
- Greenshoot: a group of film production professionals that has already made great strides in reducing the carbon footprint of their sector.
- CAN: a company which levers capital funds and strategic management support into social enterprises seeking scale through its Breakthrough programme.
- Green Thing: a fascinating public service that had deployed a number of innovative strategies to help inspire people to lead a greener life.
- Just Giving: The website that made charitable giving easy. Since its inception it has raised £770m for charities.
All six had arrived at this point after an intensive preparation process designed to ensure they provided the most compelling case possible for the investors. Having been selected from a large number of applicants, they then attended an expert pitch training session at ClearlySo to refine their presentations.
What followed were six compelling, but very different pitches. Some were highly analytical and provided extensive information about the business model, revenue projections and use of funds. Others concentrated on the message and delivering an inspiring story for its audience.
Each approach had its merits and speaking to investors after the presentations it was clear each had its own set of fans and critics. For many, an inspiring concept would be enough alone to capture their interest. Others wanted more detailed information.
Pitching, therefore, is a highly complex art as anyone who has presented in the past will affirm. The one thread running throughout, though, is a recognition of what the investor wants and what type of investor the pitch hopes to attract.