Introducing the first of our 'Meet the Investor' mini-series! This week, we share some fantastic investor insight from Mike Rivett-Strong, Business Support Manager at Livv Investment, including challenges, opportunities, top tips and his previous aspirations to be a professional footballer...

Welcome to our Meet the Investor Mini Series! As part of our commitment to demystify social investment for charities and social enterprises, we thought it'd be brilliant to bring insight and perspective from social investors across the UK, helping our users to understand more about the social investment process from the perspective of the investor. 

Huge thank you to Mike at Livv, who took the time out of his busy schedule to provide these answers and share his insight from the perspective of their organisation. 

All about you

What is your name? 

Mike Rivett-Strong

What is your job title? 

Business Support Manager 

How long have you worked at Livv Housing Group? 

Seven years. How time flies!

Where are you from / where are you based now? 

Wirral, Merseyside

Mike Strong - Livv Investment

Spotlight on: Livv Housing Group

What does a typical day look like at Livv Housing Group? 

For the Livv Investment arm of the business, a typical day involves a variety of activities centred around supporting social enterprises and charities. We work closely with partners and organisations to provide financial support and guidance – this includes helping them become investment-ready, guiding them through the application process for loans or grants, and offering ongoing support post-investment. 

What’s the best thing about working at Livv? 

Having the opportunity to make a significant and positive impact on our local communities. It’s rewarding knowing that our funding helps social enterprises and charities to grow and achieve their goals, ultimately benefiting the community. This sense of purpose and contribution to social good is a major motivator.

What’s most important to Livv when looking at organisations to invest in? 

The primary criterion is the organisation's ability to make a positive social impact. We focus on providing social investment to organisations that benefit the community and contribute to social value. This includes initiatives that address social issues, improve community wellbeing and create long-lasting impact.

Organisations need to demonstrate that they’re prepared to take on investment funds. This involves having a solid business plan, clear financial projections, and a well-thought-out strategy for using the funds effectively. 

What does your organisation offer in terms of social investment – are there any specific products or social issues that you prioritise? 

Livv Investment offers a range of financial products and support services tailored to the needs of social enterprises and charities. Our Livv and Flourish fund offers a blend of unsecured loan and grant aimed at supporting charities and social organisations across Knowsley and Liverpool City Region to grow and sustain their operations. 
These loans can range from £10,000 to £150,000, with potential applications considered up to £200,000. The financing is designed to be flexible, with terms up to five years and capital repayment holidays of up to 12 months.

We also offer comprehensive support throughout the investment process. This includes assistance with becoming investment-ready through the Reach Fund, which provides grants of up to £15,000 to help organisations prepare for investment. 

Overall, we aim to empower social enterprises and charities by providing them with the financial resources and support they need to achieve their social missions and create lasting positive impact across their communities. 

What’s been the most challenging for Livv in the last few years? 

One major challenge has been adapting to the evolving economic landscape and ensuring sustained funding and support for social enterprises amidst economic uncertainties. This includes navigating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted many sectors and posed additional hurdles for social enterprises and charities.

Another challenge has been maintaining and expanding their impact in the face of increasing demand for social investment. We’ve had to continuously adapt our strategies to meet the needs of a diverse range of social enterprises and community projects, ensuring that they can deliver both financial returns and significant social value.

What’s next for Livv Housing Group – any priorities for the next 5 years that you’re able to share? 

In partnership with Access Foundation, we’ve recently launched our new initiative, the Livv and Flourish fund. We’re currently looking for organisations to invest in as we continue to provide essential support to local communities. We’ll also be looking to launch further social investment funds in the future as the current programme comes to an end.

Liverpool city, where Livv is based

Exploring social investment...

What’s one myth about social investment you’d like to bust? 

Did you know that the average first time investment amount is £50,000? Social investment isn't just for large sums. There are a number of social investment products available which provide smaller, flexible finance. Our Livv and Flourish fund is a mixture of grant and loan which ensures social investment is accessible to a wide range of charities and social enterprises, not just those with significant capital. If you’re unsure, please get in touch. 

Do you have any memorable investments you’d like to spotlight? 

Homebaked Bakery & Farm Urban. 

Do you have any top tips for organisations currently exploring social investment? 

Leverage networks and partnerships: Utilise your networks to gain introductions to potential investors and to learn from other organisations that have successfully secured social investment. Engaging with sector-specific networks and attending relevant events can increase your visibility and provide opportunities to showcase your impact.

Engage with investors early: Start conversations with potential investors early in the process. Building relationships with investors can also provide valuable feedback and guidance as you prepare for investment.

At this stage a social investor will be able to support you and your organisation more clearly to help you build a strong business model, define and measure social impact and ultimately become investment ready. 

By focusing on these areas, your organisation will become more resilient and the likelihood of securing the funding needed to expand your social impact.

How would you describe the ‘Due Diligence’ process at Livv and why is it important? 

Supportive yet thorough, aimed at assessing both the financial health and the social impact potential of prospective investments. This process is crucial to mitigate risks and ensures alignment with our mission as a business. 

Top tip from Good Finance: 

What does the due diligence process look like and how can you prepare for it? Our bitesize module explores due diligence in more detail with key insights from Investors and Investees. Click here to learn more and to register your interest for our next cohort

What’s the most difficult part of being a social investor? 

Declining funding requests from passionate organisations with compelling missions, especially when their projects have potential, but they don't meet specific investment criteria. It requires balancing empathy with due diligence, ensuring resources are allocated to initiatives with the highest likelihood of success. Saying no is tough because it can feel like dampening the aspirations of changemakers, but it's necessary to maintain the integrity and sustainability of the investment fund and at times, the organisation. 

If you could change one thing about the social investment sector, what would it be and why? 

To enhance its perception. Many see social investment as complex and only accessible to well-established organisations. By promoting success stories of diverse, grassroots initiatives and explaining the process through clear, relatable communication, we could shift this perception. Highlighting the tangible community impacts and making the sector seem more approachable and inclusive would encourage broader participation. This change would demonstrate that social investment is a powerful tool for all, driving positive social change across various levels of society.

Where would you signpost organisations if they’re looking for further support / resources ahead of applying for social investment? 

Firstly, speak to your local social investor. It’s likely they’ll understand the support networks available. If you are unsure on who your local social investor is, check out the Good Finance Investor Directory, speak to your local council for Voluntary Service (CVS) or search for your local social enterprise network. 

The Good Finance website also offers free comprehensive guides, case studies, and tools. Reach out to sector-specific networks like the School for Social Entrepreneurs for specialised support too (you can check out the Good Finance Advisor Directory to find more advisory organisations). These platforms can help organisations prepare effectively for social investment applications.

Homebaked Bakery

Before you go, just for fun...

What did you want to be when you were little and why? 

Like many, I dreamed of being a professional footballer, but apparently you need to be good at football for that! In my later teens, I wanted to work in film and TV production. So naturally, if you can’t win a World Cup or an Oscar, a career in Social Investment is the next best thing. 

What’s the last thing you searched for on Spotify?

The Verve – Urban Hymns.

What are you watching / reading / listening to right now – any recommendations? 

Watching: currently two episodes into the 99 – Manchester United Documentary.

Reading/Listening: Not sure if this counts as reading or listening, perhaps both, but I’m currently on a 25-day Duolingo streak learning Italian for my upcoming holiday!

That's a wrap for today! 

Again, thanks to Mike and everyone at Livv Investment for sharing these experiences with us. Keep your eyes peeled, we'll be publishing more 'Meet the Investor' blogs over the next few weeks. 

Ready to start the conversation? Check out our Investor Directory to browse 100+ investors and funds, including Livv Investment, to find the organisation that is best-suited to speak to based on your financial needs. 

You can also check out previous blogs featuring social investor via our Blogs page, including...

Supporting £100m of Social Enterprise Growth in Yorkshire and Beyond...

Life after Banking: What I Learned After 6 Years in Social Investment