London, 10 October, 2014 Award-winning social impact fund Impact Ventures UK (IVUK) has invested £1 million in Big White Wall, the leading digital mental healthcare provider in the UK, to enable it to invest globally in technology developments, new features and to add to its senior management and account management teams over the next three years.
IVUK lead the fundraising, which saw Big White Wall secure a total of £4.4million (US$7million) in its first external round of capital raising, and also included an investment from the New York based Whittemore Collection Limited.
Big White Wall is a multi-award winning social enterprise working across the UK, USA and New Zealand. It was formed in 2007 by leading social entrepreneur, Jen Hyatt, who has founded or helped to establish more than 30 social impact organisations in more than 20 countries.
Jen Hyatt, CEO and Founder of Big White Wall, said: “Poor mental health is a widespread and growing problem with enormous costs for individuals and for society at large. Big White Wall is a home-grown success story in the UK, and has an expanding client-base in the USA and New Zealand. Through Big White Wall, we seek to improve access to the highest standards of care and make an important contribution to addressing the pressing global concern of poor mental health whilst alleviating some of the pressure on public resources.
“We are delighted to have had such a successful first round of external fundraising which will enable us to invest strategically for the future in our people and technology. We – and our investors – are committed to ensuring that Big White Wall continues to provide access to world class professional care, peer support and counselling that is proven to work. Together we will turn the mental health journey from one that is passive and lonely to one that is active and supported,” added Ms. Hyatt.
At least eight million people encounter mental health issues every year in the UK alone, and it is recognised as the fastest-growing health-related problem in developed societies. Big White Wall provides easy and direct access to 24/7 digital mental health and wellbeing services that help individuals to identify, understand, manage and recover from common mental health issues. To date, it has supported over 20,000 people. An independent review found that 73% of members talked about an issue for the first time on Big White Wall – many of whom would otherwise have been left untreated.
Richard Brass, Head of UK Clients at Berenberg Private Banking and Founder of Impact Ventures UK, said, “Jen Hyatt is a tremendously successful entrepreneur whose vision and track record have helped Big White Wall to establish itself as the digital mental healthcare provider of choice in the UK. It is revolutionising the scale of access to mental health care services, and independent statistics show that 95% of members report improved well-being as a direct result of using it. Through IVUK’s investment we intend to provide financial and mentoring support to ensure Big White Wall can continue to create sustained impact in years to come.”
Raf Goovaerts, Partner and Head of the UK investment team at LGT Venture Philanthropy, said, “Big White Wall’s proven potential to create sustained social impact, along with the scalability of its business model and the experience and track record if its management team, make this a compelling investment opportunity. The UK government spends more on mental health services than on any other area of health, yet mental health services lag behind other areas of healthcare when it comes to technology – this is where Big White Wall has found its niche. The company’s innovative business model serves an unmet need, provides significant cost-savings and is transforming the nature of service delivery itself in developed economies.”
IVUK was launched by LGT Venture Philanthropy in association with Berenberg with a £10million cornerstone investment from Big Society Capital, the financial institution with a social mission. IVUK’s diverse investor base includes UK and European institutional investors, asset owners and private clients, reflecting the appeal of the fund across different sources of capital. It is one of the first social impact funds to attract investment from a UK local authority pension fund. IVUK invests in enterprises that create strong, positive social impact for disadvantaged people and communities in the UK as well as generating a financial return.
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