On Tuesday 24 October 2017, Anne Contreras-Muller, ESELA board member and partner at Arendt & Medernach, welcomed the attendees of the ESELA Members Event and gave a brief introduction to social enterprises and impact investing in Luxembourg.
The Members Event was attended by members representing 11 countries, as well as a number of new members, as well as representatives of the European Commission, covering a number of themes:
After Anne discussed the role of ‘Luxembourg as a Hub for Impact Investing’ and its position internationally, Patrick Goodman delved deeper into the world of impact finance. Patrick explained how the design of an impact finance fund aims at creating a vehicle matching investment and investors’ strategies – the 4 I’s (Investees, Investors, Investments, Impact). Patrick also explained what the typical design of a blended finance fund looks like, with its capital and income waterfalls reflecting different investor priorities.
Rick Alexander introduced the ESELA members to his new book: Benefit Corporation Law and Governance: Pursuing Profit with Purpose. Rick talked about how the concept of fiduciary is evolving and how the benefit corporation is spreading around the world. Rick explained how financial capital can be used to for a ‘positive sum’ strategy, centred on value creation and sharing.
David Hunter explored how governments can do more to “buy social” from social enterprises. David discussed the potential significance for social enterprises of procurement practices, including public procurement practice. He highlighted current practice in different jurisdictions across the EU, whilst identifying some examples of good practice which could be applied more widely.
A panel, chaired by Aurelien Hollard involving Alissa Pelatan, Ineke Koele, Michael Mosimann and Malcolm Lynch discussed how to set up social enterprises and ‘hybrid’ legal forms. They looked into different ways of safeguarding the mission and maintaining social integrity through the legal structure and zoomed in on a number of European countries such as Italy, France and Luxembourg.
In the afternoon, Julie Wynne, Emiliano Giovine, and Marc Elvinger debated how Governments should seek to develop legal systems to support social enterprise ecosystems. Julie described some of the reports and initiatives that have been seen throughout Europe, including the GECES report, the FICI study and the mapping report, which can be downloaded here. Emiliano focused on Italy’s third sector and highlighted that Italian civil law does not meet the current needs where social enterprises are concerned.
During the last session of the day, a panel chaired by David Davies, including Nathan Gilbert, Luke Fletcher, Remedios Garcia, Marleen Denef and Anka Hakert explored the growth and development of B Corps. David reminded the members of the legal nature of a B Corp, while Nathan spoke about the bigger picture: ‘a historic global culture shift’ in how companies engage with society and the environment. The other panellists elaborated on the existence or lack of B Corps in countries such as the UK, Spain, Belgium and Germany.
Luke Fletcher, Chair of ESELA, delivered the closing remarks, whilst inviting all attendees to the upcoming ESELA Annual Conference on 20 April 2018 in Milan – please save the date.
The Annual Conference will be on the theme of ‘Social Impact: Exploring Different Legal Dimensions’. Under this heading, we will look at:
Our host will be Roberto Randazzo, a partner at the Italian law firm R&P Legal and a lecturer in Social Innovation at Polytechnic of Milan and MIP, the Polytechnic of Milan graduate school of business.