Q&A with Susan Aktemel,
Co-Investor, Homes for Good
Investments, and Director,
Homes for Good CIC
Homes for Good Investments became an Impact Ventures UK investee in August 2014. The new venture will help ensure a wider stock of affordable, well-maintained homes is available to marginalised households in Scotland. Its sister company, Homes for Good CIC, a community interest company, lets and manages its own portfolio of properties along with homes from local landlords. It also provides critical support services to help residents, many of whom struggle with illness, addiction, lone parenthood and other challenges, to address issues that may affect a sustainable tenancy.
How do you define a social enterprise?
A business that is as committed to social impact as it is to financial viability, and has a focus on developing business solutions to challenging social issues. Asset lock can be a defining feature, but there are great people in the private sector working to achieve social change as well.
What do you think are the defining characteristics of a social enterprise?
Passion, energy, business acumen, clear focus on values and ethics, innovation, minimal reliance on grants, working to make lives better.
What have you learned or how have you benefitted from working with the fund thus far?
Due diligence has been incredibly thorough, once you really accept the concept of financial return for investors it is a real education becoming investment ready. My experience, going through the investment process, negotiating terms and defining social impacts, has taught me a great deal more than I could have imagined, being an experienced social entrepreneur already. In short, it’s been a tough, but brilliant experience.
How would you describe IVUK to those interested in applying for funding?
Open, interested, easy to deal with: a smart team of people who need and want to balance social impact and financial success as much as any social entrepreneur does.
IVUK puts equal emphasis on both financial viability as a business and social impact. How has this shaped your plans and vision for your business?
These two objectives were already completely aligned for me to start with, so my plans have not really changed. However in reality, balancing desired social impact with commercial targets is a very tricky thing to do, and this has been a healthy source of tension throughout the process, and will be as we execute the business.
What advice do you have for social enterprises seeking funding from IVUK?
Know your basic numbers in terms of finance to ensure you can take on repayable investment–there isn’t any point otherwise.
Be ready to embrace the questioning, skills and input of a highly experienced team of people who know investment as thoroughly as you know your social business-the combination is a great one.
Be able to articulate your social impact in a clear, quantifiable way. If you can’t, why should anyone invest?
Be ready to share your vision, and allow your investor to work alongside you in every aspect of the business. They will add value and get in the way at the same time, but that’s the way it is.
What do you think makes this fund different from the others?
The fund team are engaged, highly experienced in the social and private sector and entrepreneurial in their approach. I sense they are passionate about making this money change lives, and seem more willing to take more calculated risks to back innovation than some other funds.