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IC and SJF – a merger that makes sense

SOCAP Global July 27, 2011

After working tirelessly for a year to chart a future for Investors’ Circle, angel investor Suzanne Biegel has found it a home, as part of SJF Institute. SJF Institute is the non-profit, capacity building affiliate of SJF Ventures, a North Carolina-based impact venture capital firm.
The merger makes sense; Investors’ Circle needed a financially supportive home to accomplish its twin tasks of convening a circle of angel investors to invest in mission-oriented deals and making that circle smarter and more effective in the way it collaborates. SJF has the financial base to make that capacity building realistic.
IC will keep its staff, with Biegel an engaged advisory board member but able to live in London with her husband rather than constantly traveling the world working to put the pieces of IC’s future together.
The product extension that IC represents will be something new for SJF. Most of SJF’s capacity building has been on the entrepreneur side – working with companies whose social mission is sometimes the fact that they create jobs in underserved areas – and recently, in green job producing companies, some of which become portfolio companies of the affiliated. Those funds frequently get bank community reinvestment act (CRA) dollars as well as some progressive pension fund investors, and also cycle in traditional resources like federal Small Business Administration support.
“We are bringing two networks together that can be mutually supportive to facilitate the marketplace. That’s more compelling to sponsors and foundations and funders than just one . We bring together the entrepreneurs and the investors,” said Bonny Moellenbrock, Executive Director of SJF Institute.
Capacity building, educating, and building skills among entrepreneurs and investors, is important, Biegel believes. IC’s membership dues revenue model, coupled with event revenue, could not get the organization to where it needed to go. Biegel determined that finding a home within a solid institution with a solid financial base was the way to go for the long term.
Toniic, the other leading angel network, led by Charly and Lisa Kleissner with Morgan Simon as staff, believes the angels themselves should take the lead in coordinating their investments and syndicating deals. IC will be focused domestically, and Toniic is more focused on international social enterprises.
“I think this is the best thing we could have done for IC,” said Biegel. “I’m going to be involved, but I’m also going to have a life.”

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