Meet our new Trustees – Maggie Rodriguez-Piza

Meet our new Trustees! We are profiling three brilliant new Trustees, elected to our Board at our June AGM.

Here we talk to Maggie Rodriguez-Piza, Chief Executive, Funding London, about her experience and interest in social finance, and why she chose to join us.

‘My experience of social finance started when I came to Funding London over 10 years ago. As an investor, our mission is to support the economic development strategy for London through our fund – we bridge the funding gap for SMEs in London and enable real opportunities for sustainable growth. From time to time, that’s seen us lending to social enterprises and more recently, specifically targeting under represented groups, for example women and minoritised groups.

The support we have provided to social enterprises has really helped us learn, and we have seen first hand what an impact it can have in tackling issues that are very local to a community. We’ve supported lending from buying buildings and creating community centres, to supporting groups working do things that are good for the environment, to other end of spectrum, we have supported organisations that are very passionate about children and young people – and particularly children and young people in marginalised and deprived communities – and the issues they face.  The challenge is always around how to amplify that impact. How can we best support organisations doing really great things, that need finance over time to expand their impact?

Social finance has huge benefits. One of my favourite examples of this is Change Please. When we supported them they were very small, they had just one coffee cart in Canary Wharf. They were doing amazing work taking homeless people who wanted to get into the workforce. Working with Change Please gave them skills and supported them to change other important things – for example, they might have gained a fixed address, a bank account. But scaling was difficult. As there was only one coffee cart, there was a limit to the number of clients they could support at any one time. Social finance enabled them to buy a second cart and double their impact. They now have a roastery and actual cafes in London and Manchester. They were very smart by starting in Canary Wharf and are a really great example of how social finance can unlock a huge amount of value.

Social impact in this country is becoming more and more front of mind for even mainstream organisations. Ten years ago, it wasn’t even on the table for Venture Capitalists, whereas today it’s a growing trend. The managers of those funds have to reflect the priorities of those that invest into the funds. More and more, impact and social good are becoming ingrained in what investors are looking for, so as a result, social finance in general will become more important as we look for ways to recover from the pandemic and the economic turmoil we’re experiencing in this country. I see that as a really great future and I’m looking forward to being part of it.