Engaging Social Entrepreneurs and Social Investors in Partnerships

Date

December 6, 2017

5 min read
  • Thought leaders and practitioners examined Myanmar’s investment landscape for key challenges and opportunities.
  • 3 key barriers to building a mutually beneficial partnership between funders and fundees.
  • Find out how you can contribute to building effective connections across stakeholders.

On 15th November, Impact Hub Yangon was happy to partner with AVPN to host an event aiming at helping Myanmar social enterprises become investment-ready. Investment experts shared their advice with 5 selected ventures in one-on-one consulting sessions during the afternoon before the start of the public event.

Durrie Hassan, an experienced impact investor and Executive Director of Carlton Mansfield Capital provided insights into what it takes to successfully acquire capital.

Durrie Hassan led a panel of 4 Yangon-based investment professionals and social entrepreneur

The panelists shared their perspective on the Myanmar investment landscape, identified challenges for entrepreneurs and investors, and provided recommendations for how the local social impact ecosystem can grow. The message of the day highlighted that while Myanmar remains one of the most promising places for impact investing, more work needs to be done to connect and engage entrepreneurs and investors with each other. Indeed, while investment funding for social enterprises is theoretically available in Myanmar, very few investments have been made.

From left: Robbert Groenen (Rockstart!), Loring Harkness (Myanmar Angel Network), Htet Thiri Shwe , (MYEO/G20 Young Global Changer), Bradley Kopsick (Insitor Management), Durrie Hassan (Carlton Mansfield Capital)

As such, events like these are essential for the development of a thriving social enterprise ecosystem.

Highlight 1: Social Enterprises and Funders Can’t Seem to Find Common Grounds

As pointed out by one of the speakers at the event, social enterprises and investors are not focusing on the same things, and often understand a business from completely different perspectives. While social entrepreneurs want to create maximum impact using their limited resources, investors are drawn to the potential for scaling revenue models and reaching a certain threshold of returns.

Nonetheless, several Myanmar social enterprises with more ambitious plans to scale their impact and their business model have emerged recently, and have been successful in acquiring outside capital. If this trend continues to strengthen, and these success stories become role models for future social entrepreneurs, impact investors will find several new investment opportunities.

AVPN Assistant Director of Memberships, Outi Annala, shares highlights on the social investment landscape in Asia

Highlight 2: Cultural and Market Misunderstandings

As most impact investors come from high-income countries, they often struggle to understand the philosophy of social entrepreneurs in a low-income market like Myanmar. Any kind of investment typically requires a high degree of funder involvement; hence, finding personal connections are crucial to building a beneficial relationship.

However, coming from different economic backgrounds makes the establishment of this connection within a business-focused partnership very challenging. Therefore, most investors decide against their involvement. Both entrepreneurs and investors will need to find ways of bridging this cultural gap to enable them to work together.

Highlight 3: Social Enterprises’ Lack of Trust in Investors’ Involvement

Another issue that hinders  investment partnerships is that social enterprises often are not interested in receiving capital from investors. They often see the requirements and processes required by investors either too difficult or time-consuming. Instead, they choose to focus on growing their business by steadily developing their operations. For that reason, some high-impact social enterprises may decline to attend or speak at the event.

Hence, impact investors will need to outline the benefits of partnering with social entrepreneurs more effectively. While impact investors can choose to approach social enterprises for investment individually, educational activities about the benefits of becoming an investee might proof to be a successful strategy to establish relationships with a previously inaccessible segment of the market.

Highlight 4: Building a community of social entrepreneurs and investors

At Impact Hub Yangon our main aim is to see a thriving social enterprise ecosystem in Myanmar. This will only be possible if strong entrepreneurs and supportive impact investors engage in investment relationships that are mutually beneficial.

While both sides, as well as Impact Hub and all other local intermediaries, have some work to do to make this a reality, we are hopeful about the very promising development of the local social enterprise environment. We are looking forward to working with more partners to create interactive opportunities around impact investment.

Full house at the AVPN-Impact Hub Myanmar Speakers’ Series

Interested to contribute actively to Myanmar’s social economy? Join us at our 2nd AVPN Social Impact Forum in Myanmar, 27th February 2018!


About Author
Klaus Oberbauer
Klaus Oberbauer Organizational Development Lead Impact Hub Yangon

Klaus is a social innovator who has been living in Yangon since 2013. He has been developing and founding social enterprises and international development organizations in Asia, Europe and South America. Design-driven innovation has become an increasing focus of his work, and he strongly believes in its power to create better societies. He is currently working on designing and implementing learning and scaling systems for Impact Hub Yangon, and the Yangon social enterprise ecosystem. He does that through creating spaces for individuals to connect and support each other, through hosting learning environments, and through connecting organizations to local and international opportunities that help them to grow personally and professionally. Klaus graduated from the HPI dschool in Potsdam, Germany and has worked for and with partners like UNICEF, UNDP, DFAT and USAID.