Can you introduce us to your team?
We have twelve members in Cambridge - Abigail, Adithya, Andrei, Andrew, Emily, Glen, Hong Liang, Noor, Srishti, and Kian Chong - including our two directors for 2018, Tim and Anirud. It has been exciting to see Kevin, Raghul and Yu Xin, who were in the finance team last year, now developing BfE’s vision for 2018 in the global leadership team.
We also have three members in Singapore – Henry is our new director who works with Adrian and Li Xian. However, we have various other team members here still involved in our work, including Singapore’s Consulting Director, Cheri, who was in the Finance Advisory team last year, and Valerie and Sabrina who have become president and vice-president of this city chapter. Jia Qing and Jeremy also sit in finance engagements to assist the members. Therefore, we have between three and eight members based in Singapore, depending on who you include!
One exciting new development is the establishment of teams in New York and Sydney. Daniel has become the new director for the four-strong team in New York, working alongside Steven, Devapriya and Lucas while Akshatt directs the Finance Advisory Team in Sydney with Tina.
What is the role of the Finance Advisory Team within BfE?
Our team has two key roles. Primarily, we are here to empower start-ups to be investor-ready. Our vision is to enable entrepreneurs to access funding that can help them achieve their ambitions. Therefore, we provide suggestions to help start-ups polish their pitch deck. This is a fantastic tool which gives a succinct, professional presentation of a business to potential investors, thus helping start-ups to be more competitive in their applications. We also help start-ups develop improvements to their business plans by targeting specific business strategies. One example of this would be identifying ways of targeting specific customer segments in marketing their product or service. In addition to this, we review start-ups’ existing financial models or propose possible ways of doing an evaluation.
The other role that we fulfill is assisting start-ups in their search for suitable financial sources. With the assistance of professional mentors with expertise in the field, we research which type of financing is appropriate, whether that be Angel investors, venture capitalists, or crowdfunding. We seek to be resourceful in searching for investors that would match well with the individual start-ups we work with, for example some investors target a certain industry or region. We also tap on BfE’s sizeable centralized database for information about investors and other relevant organisations.
What have been some of the highlights from the last year for the team?
BfE as a whole has been rapidly expanding over the last year and the Finance Advisory Team has been part of this dynamic movement. We experienced a large scale-up from the previous year's Finance Advisory, both in terms of how many members we have and the number of start-up engagement we have completed. From working with seven start-ups in Michaelmas 2016, we have just completed Michaelmas 2017 with eleven social enterprises. Being able to witness the establishment of independent city chapter teams in New York, Singapore and Sydney has also been a delight.
Has there been a particularly challenging engagement, or period, for the team? How was this challenge overcome?
Scaling up always brings with it certain challenges, not least in how to keep quality of the service we provide consistent despite such expansion in the number of start-ups we now work with. We are overcoming this by enhancing internal communications within the team as well as better communications with our professional mentors around the world. We are also implementing new divisions through our BfE Principals and Partners to help maintain the quality of the work we do as we scale.
What do you enjoy about being part of this team, and BfE as a whole?
Yu Xin: ‘I love how the BfE team is a really diverse group of people working towards the same goal of helping social enterprises make a difference in the world. There's so much to learn from everyone in the team, and everyone has a different insight or experience to contribute. It’s inspiring being part of a community where people are so motivated and passionate about the work that they do.’
‘I also love how BfE isn't satisfied with the status quo. It constantly seeks feedback so that it can improve itself and expand – I believe that's why we're growing so rapidly And it's absolutely brilliant to be part of the team when so much is happening so quickly.’
What is the vision for the Finance Team for the coming months?
Our vision for the Finance Team for the coming months is to improve the training that we provide for associates so that we can enable individuals to flourish and develop their skills. We also seek to facilitate the establishment of fruitful relationships between mentors, directors and associates. Moreover, we would like to consolidate a knowledge base for future associates to refer back to when facing challenges during their engagements, so that we can continually learn from what we have already done and provide a better service for the entrepreneurs we work with.
Thank you very much to the Finance Advisory Team for your contributions to this article and for all the work you do with social enterprises.