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Meet the Team – Anne Contreras

Anne Contreras talks about the state of social enterprise law in Luxembourg, her personal career and what the future holds

By ESELA Posted 13/07/2016

Anne Contreras is a board member of ESELA and Of Counsel at Arendt & Medernach. Click here for her full profile. 

  1. What kind of social enterprise legal work do you do?   

Arendt & Medernach has structured a specific pool of competences that is exclusively dedicated to social impact finance. Our professional involvement essentially relates to the structuring of investment structures dedicated to social impact finance: regulated investment funds, securitization vehicles, unregulated structures and other tools such as social impact bonds or crowdfunding structures, which are set-up with the aim of directing adequate financing towards social enterprises. Luxembourg has a very important track record in the investment fund and financing tools structuring, which permits to address social enterprises needs, especially when it comes to public-private partnerships and interaction between philanthropy and investments.

  1. Describe one aspect of social enterprise law in your country which works well and one aspect which needs to change

Hybrid financing which is of essence for social enterprises, through layered investment funds involving private and public investors with different expectations and risk/return appetite, is something that we have been able in Luxembourg to structure for many years now and which works well for social enterprises, wherever they are located. In the social impact sector, Luxembourg based investment funds represent more than 66% of assets under management.

One aspect which is in the process of being enhanced is the creation in Luxembourg of a dedicated legal framework for social impact enterprises. A bill of law has been deposited with the Parliament, which creates such framework and permits to take into account the specifics of social enterprises established under the form of commercial companies.

  1. What do you think the future holds for social enterprise law in Luxembourg?

There is a strong commitment in Luxembourg towards social enterprises, from many players i.e. the government, the NGO sector, business angels, the financial sector including regulators. A number of initiatives do exist which are working on a continued basis, in order to make of Luxembourg an international hub for social impact finance, both at the level of social enterprises and of their financing tools. Thanks especially to its leading position in the investment funds industry, Luxembourg has a lot of expertise to share with the social enterprises and investors in this sector.

  1. How long have you been working in social enterprise law?

Arendt & Medernach’s involvement dates back to the late 80’ where we have had the chance to help structuring the first microfinance fund in Luxembourg with BlueOrchard. Since then, we developed our expertise in the broader field of social impact finance, including

  1. Why did you decide to specialise in social enterprise law?

It is not merely a specialization but a full dedication! The reasons of this choice are multiple: strong belief in the potentials of social impact finance, pleasure to work with people having a social mind-set, being convinced that the social impact sector needs a very high level of legal skills and expertise, not necessarily on a pro-bono basis, but certainly on a financially adapted basis.

  1. Describe an interaction or encounter with a social enterprise that inspired you.

The Luxembourg government has launched a few year ago the “1,2,3 Go Social” initiative, which accompanies initiators of social enterprises projects. Each year, a number of such projects are awarded, which are of great inspiration to us and show that there are in Luxembourg a lot of great ideas out there.

Among these projects, I personally have been particularly enthusiastic about two initiatives:

  • TERRA, which is the first Community Supported Agriculture in Luxembourg, bringing producers and consumers together in the creation of resilient local food systems that work with, rather than against, nature.
  • OUNI, which is the first packaging-free organic grocery store in Luxembourg,
  1. If you could describe social enterprise law in one word, what would it be? 

Exciting !…or Challenging ! you may choose

  1. What advice do you have for social enterprise legal practitioners in Europe?

My advice would be to join forces and share knowledge – within ESELA – so that the social enterprise sector can benefit either locally or at EU level from an enhanced, adapted and efficient legal framework it eagerly needs in order to develop.

 

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