Placement experiences: CAF Venturesome

Sophie Preuss is half way through the On Purpose Associate Programme. Here she shares her experience in the social investment space, which she’s gained during the first 6 months of the programme with a placement at CAF Venturesome.

As my first On Purpose placement with CAF Venturesome comes to an end I am very grateful for the opportunity I have been given to learn more about the social investment landscape and to have worked alongside such dedicated team. Before starting On Purpose I had already been very interested in the social investment and impact investing sector and I cannot express how valuable these last six months have been and how much I have learned. There is a big difference in trying to learn as much as possible about social investment from ‘the outside’ by reading industry reports, attending conferences and meeting people for coffees versus actually working on social investment research projects, attending weekly team meetings, engaging with investees and attending industry conferences.

Why On Purpose?

I was drawn to the On Purpose programme because I wanted to find work that aligned more with my values and I wanted to work for organisations that actively work on issues affecting society and the environment. On Purpose has provided me with a very structured approach to test out new sectors and upskill while working at organisations such as CAF Venturesome. Yet, the On Purpose programme has been so much more than that as well. Through the mentoring, coaching and weekly interactions with my brilliant cohort I have been able to learn more about the social and environmental impact landscape, about setting development goals and expanding my mind.

What have I learnt?

At CAF Venturesome I worked on two fascinating projects, one was focused on how CAF Venturesome can improve and do more international development social investment deals and the latter was focused on analysing the social impact of our SE-Assist fund. Through my research into international development I learned of the complexities of doing social investment in emerging markets such as sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, but also of the tremendous opportunity this represents to social investors such as us. On SE-Assist I learned of the importance of interest-free repayable finance to small start-up organisations operating across the country on hugely important
issues such as social inclusion, ethical food, fuel poverty and citizen activism. It has been a true privilege speaking with organisations such as ELITE SEA, a trading charity in Wales supporting disabled and disadvantaged people into work as well as GT Scholars, an in-school and after-school leadership programme for young people in Croydon.

While I move on to Big Society Capital as my second placement at the beginning of April I look forward to staying in touch with the Venturesome team who I am sure I will be seeing at industry events in the coming weeks.