29 July | “2 Stars & A Wish”

Thoughts from our departing Director of Business Development, Vinay Nair

As a team, we spend a lot of time talking about our kids’ shenanigans. We do our best to filter the stories to the interesting ones – not always something I succeed in doing, I’m sure! One of the best to emerge is from Ben’s daughter’s teacher, who encourages her students to regularly analyse things by granting “2 Stars & A Wish.” We’ve adopted it as SASC for how we reflect on what we are working on, what is going well and what can be improved. So it’s probably apt to share my 2 Stars & A Wish as I wrap up my time at this wonderful organisation.

My first star is self-evident to anyone who has touched this space, but it has to be said: the organisations we invest in, and the people whom they serve. I think back to my trip to the Isle of Wight, a few months ago when I met Nick & Wendy Miller who run a wonderful charity called Storeroom2010. Nick & Wendy have come through immense adversity to build a thriving social enterprise on the island. Their drive, matched with their humility and commitment to support their beneficiaries, is regularly inspiring. Building on their financial plan, and following a lot of close work together, last month we lent Storeroom2010 £360k. Knowing that we have played a key role to ‘secure their future,’ as they put it, has been truly humbling. We have worked with so many great organisations, some of whom we made an investment and others where we haven’t, but all of whom show what it means to be leaders in the social sector in our challenging times.

My second star also relates to people. Ben has been an inspirational leader, colleague and friend now for 15+ years. His insights on how social investment is the means to create impact, and remembering that it is not the ends in itself has been a great guiding light and I’d like to thank him for that. Everyone I’ve worked with at SASC, on the board and with the team, has shown how one can navigate the complex, grey and uncertain aspects of our world, and do so with humour and grace. It’s been such a pleasure to also work with people at various partner orgs – SIB, Power to Change, BSC, Santander and many others besides. What an intellectual and emotional tour de force you all are.

My wish is that we can all still do better and more to bridge the supply of investment capital to the demand from the third sector. My previous work focused on impact investing in emerging markets, where there are a lot of lessons we can learn and better listening we can emulate. My sense is that we have certainly collectively improved in doing this, but I still find that even compassionate and clever people sometimes don’t understand where we are, how we have got here, and how we should course-correct to what is a pretty consensual end-goal for social investment in the UK. I know it’s possible and hope that it will take place.

Making the decision to leave SASC has not been easy, and unexpected somewhat. But Lightful is a company that I co-founded, and there is now a huge opportunity to enable the use of technology, digital and social media in a way to massively impact charities and social enterprises, both in the UK and internationally. We have terrific momentum with our first clients, just secured major investment and I’m really thrilled to join as the first CEO to lead Lightful to its next chapter.

It has been a wonderful journey with SASC; my time started on the advisory board before I joined as part of the team 2+ years ago. I know I will stay close to the team at SASC and many people across the social sector. Thanks for everything and please do keep in touch.

Vinay Nair // vinay@nair.com // @vinaynair