We spotted opportunities when considering the scale-up of solutions to social problems:
(1) Solutions with high potential are in need of cross-border mindset and resources, to break the bottleneck in solving social problems.
(2) Philanthropy has switched from simply “providing the porridge” to empowering people of problem solving. Both social enterprises and nonprofit organizations are in need of empowerment rather than receiving money.
(3) Social elites willing to invest their time, capital and resources to solve pressing social issues are looking for systematic education in philanthropy and suitable access to participation in philanthropy.
(4) Cross-border social elites are bringing about diverse mindsets, ideas and solutions for social enterprises and nonprofit organizations, which inspires innovation in the field of philanthropy.
We should utilize all these opportunities, move forward and create a healthy ecosystem together, where we could master all the benefits and amplify social impact indefinitely.
Social Venture Partners (SVP) was established in 2013 after drawing lessons from the venture philanthropy model. It aims to help those social elites with entrepreneurship to intensively participate in the development and execution of projects with high potential, by investing in social enterprises and nonprofit organizations. At the same time, it spurs innovation in the local area where the program is held, establishing a favorable environment for venture philanthropy.
On one hand, the process involves inviting likeminded individuals to become partners. Through intensive connection with the investees and proactively learning process, our partners develop an increased understanding of the problems faced by the organizations in which they’ve invested, and learn to strive for sustainable solutions. Ultimately, they will become qualified philanthropists. On the other hand, through these social elites as well as their professional skills and social resources, we raise these investees’ key capacities, and inspire them to become social entrepreneurs. These two aspects combined, we develop a network of venture philanthropy, with the vitality to learn from each other and face the challenges of pressing social issues.
Strategic Investment: Social Impact Over Financial Return
SVP defines success a bit differently than would a traditional venture capital group. That is, we value social impact over financial return. The social entrepreneurships and public welfare organizations in which we invest require significantly longer periods—a minimum of five to seven years—before any monetary gains are realized. Moreover, when the investment does show a profit, it is likely to be reinvested. With the same amount of investment (no matter money, resources or money), if it achieves greater and wider social value than traditional charity model would bring, we consider it a successful investment.
In this kind of long-term investment process, SVP partners have to be especially professional and proactive in screening potential projects. When providing support for the projects being invested in, it is necessary to accurately grasp its weak points, targetedly provide funds, technology and resources, while also being patient and always holding social impact in one’s heart.
Learning by Doing: Let entrepreneurship play a role in the nonprofit sector
As our partners become intensively involved in investment and post-investment management, equipped with the “Learning by Doing” mindset, they gain professional knowledge and valuable lessons that makes them more adept at social problem solving. At the same time, they grow together with our philanthropic educational product and the favorable environment we created. In deep participation, in philanthropy learning activities, and in the process of capability-building for social purpose organizations, our partners not only effectively invest their professional skills, knowledge and resources in the nonprofit field, but also deeply understand social issues and venture philanthropy. Gradually, partners become leaders in philanthropy with the know-how to find sustainable solutions. As of now, SVP Beijing – the very first SVP in China – has earned 34 partners, invested over one million .As of now, SVP Beijing – the very first SVP in China - has 34 partners and a total investment of 1.38 million RMB. Over a thousand man-hours have so far been dedicated to the investment process, volunteering and all kinds of learning activities.
Learning by Sharing: A Cross-Border Network based on Peer Learning
In reality, it is not easy to achieve continuous “learning by doing” and focus on impact. Therefore, the most important commonalities of our partners are an inherent drive for self-improvement, and an understanding of how to maintain a curiosity towards creating new types of solutions and motivation for learning with partners in this platform created by social elites from diverse backgrounds. The skills that our partners want to grasp are not only how to choose an investment project, but how to use strategic investment to maintain long-term promotion of solving social problems.
Therefore, SVP promotes learning by sharing, an approach that encourages and facilitates not only the method of learning by doing, but also the sharing of knowledge among partners and business leaders in fields related to philanthropy, venture philanthropy and social innovation. We sponsor a series of philanthropic learning products, including learning resources with practical traits, such as study tours, investment concept sharing session, as well as thought leadership resources, such as renowned lectures and philanthropic trend analysis.
To Help A Solution Grow into
A Social Enterprise that Actually Solves Problems
At the core of SVP are two defining constituents: partners and projects. Centered around the growth of partners and projects, on one hand, we devoted ourselves to the research and development of philanthropic educational product that based on Chinese social context and local characteristics. We will attract more and more individuals with professionalism and strong execution ability that care about social problems, so that social entrepreneurship will be continuously invested in philanthropy. As for projects, SVP will continue to invest in social purpose organizations with high potential to growth and innovative solutions, so those willing to devote themselves to philanthropy will find more solutions with positive impact. Currently, SVP has arrived in Beijing and Shanghai, and we look forward to welcoming more partners into the SVP family and expanding to more cities in the near future. Together, we will overcome our greatest social challenges and make the world a better place.