Recent News

We Are Digital secure £1.5 million to bridge the digital and financial divides

ClearlySo helps We Are Digital, a leading digital and financial inclusion training provider, secure £1.5 million to bridge the digital and financial divides.

London, United Kingdom – We Are Digital, a leading digital and financial inclusion training provider, announces that it has secured £1.5 million in funding. This investment will be used to hire key staff and make technology upgrades that will allow it to scale its operations and impact. We Are Digital work to tackle social exclusion by upskilling vulnerable people with limited technological skills, providing them with essential digital and financial training to enhance their everyday lives in an increasingly digitised world.

More than 12.6 million people in the UK[1] lack essential digital skills, the highest proportion of whom are the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society. In addition, approximately 40% of UK adults are identified as not in control of their finances and “living on the financial edge”, and 11.5 million adults in the UK have less than £100 in savings[2].

We Are Digital help bridge this divide through digital and financial training as a service to housing associations, councils, corporates and central government. Through its UK-wide network of outreach tutors and delivery partners, controlled centrally from its head office in the Midlands, it is able to provide high-quality personal training, both in-home and locally delivered in community locations. It has already provided community investment support to over 100 clients, including running national and regional programmes through its “managing agent” model.

Its solution comes at a time when government departments, banks and the entire social housing sector (2,000 providers – 4.6 million homes) are undergoing a huge shift towards the digitisation of processes and applications from paper to online, helping customers to save money and improving resident lives.

With the help of some of the best-known social impact investors in Europe, We Are Digital’s round was oversubscribed by 50%, led by VCs Si2 Fund, Triplepoint and Ascension Ventures. Also, in the round is Wayra UK and ClearlySo, Europe’s leading impact investment bank (through its extensive network of high-net-worth individual and institutional investors). Early investors were also exited within the round.

Matthew Adam, founder and Chief Executive of We Are Digital, stated: “After a lot of hard work, I’m massively excited to close our round. We continue to grow at 100% per year and winning increasingly bigger contracts where we are applying our innovations to community investment support across the UK. As a social business, I’m proud to now have on board some of the best social impact investors in the sector, who will help us scale even further over the next 6 years. I also want to thank our early angel investors and Midven, without both of whom we would not be where we are now.”

SI2 Fund manager, Pieter Oostlander, mentioned: “We Are Digital perfectly fits the SI2 Fund portfolio as it uses a very innovative business model to address a pressing societal issue. We are excited to help We Are Digital expand in the UK and beyond, hence scaling its impact.”

Julian Pickstone, Fund Manager of Triple Point, said:” We are delighted to be working with We are Digital. We believe that the company can make a significant contribution to bridging the digital gap.”

Emma Steele, Investment Manager of Ascension Ventures (Fair By Design), mentioned: “From their time on the Wayra UK Fair By Design accelerator to now, we have been impressed by We Are Digital’s approach to digital and financial inclusion. We’re delighted to be able to support its growth plans in tackling a core underlying driver of the Poverty Premium in the UK.”

Matias Wibowo, Investment Manager at ClearlySo, commented: “This transaction demonstrates impact investment’s central role in realising the ideal of the Big Society. We Are Digital (WAD) provides services that the public desperately needs at better quality while being more affordable. WAD aligns the interests and enhances the outcomes for multiple stakeholders, including investors. That’s why our investors gladly backed this transaction.”

Gary Stewart, Director of Wayra UK and Telefónica Open Future in the UK, said: “From launching the UK’s first social accelerator programme, to investing in pioneering companies such as We Are Digital – Wayra UK has a proud history in nurturing innovative businesses that create a positive societal impact. The investment that Matthew and the team have secured demonstrates the value being placed in social businesses across the country and is a testament to the efforts they’ve put in to date. I look forward to seeing what they achieve in future.”

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[1] https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmsctech/270/270.pdf

[2] https://masassets.blob.core.windows.net/fincap-cms/files/000/000/386/original/UK-financial-capability-levels-UK-poverty-statistics-research.pdf

Notes to the Editors

About ClearlySo

ClearlySo is Europe’s leading impact investment bank, working exclusively with enterprises and funds delivering positive social, ethical, and/or environmental impact as well as financial return.

Originally founded in 2008, ClearlySo has helped more than 130 clients raise more than £250 million in impact investment from its extensive network of high-net-worth individual and institutional investors.

ClearlySo is headquartered in London.

John Lloyd
Chief Marketing Officer
ClearlySo
E
: john.lloyd@clearlyso.com
T: 02074909520

About We Are Digital

We Are Digital is a training and support services firm with a mission to help organisations tackle digital and financial exclusion for their customers and help them access critical services. It offers training primarily through a national network of vetted tutors and delivery partners, offering 1:1, group support and outsourced programme management.

Matthew Adam
Founder and CEO
We Are Digital
E
: matt@we-are-digital.co.uk
T: 07834 817749

About Si2 Fund

SI2 Fund is a European social impact investment fund that focusses on enterprises that make it their core business to address a societal challenge and helps them achieve sustainable societal impact alongside a fair financial return. SI2 Fund operates in Belgium, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. It’s an active member of the European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA). More information is available at http://www.Si2fund.com.

Contact person at SI² Fund

Pieter Oostlander
Fund manager
e: pieter@Si2fund.com
BE +32471717722
NL +31653205632

About Triple Point

Triple Point Impact targets significant capital growth by investing in fast-growing, innovative companies that have a positive impact on society and qualify for EIS tax reliefs.

contact@triplepoint.co.uk
UK +44 207 201 8989

About Ascension Ventures and Fair By Design

Ascension Ventures backs exceptional entrepreneurs with big visions – providing capital, our network, and expert mentors to grow scalable technology businesses. We support UK businesses from Seed to Series A, and since 2013, Ascension has invested (across 4 distinct funds with £22m+ AUM) in 75+ UK based early-stage companies. Current funds include the ASCEND SEIS (Seed), CENTAUR EIS (Seed+), and its Fair By Design social impact fund, helping to reduce poverty in the UK.

Fair By Design is a movement dedicated to ending the Poverty Premium: people in poverty pay more for a range of products, including high-cost credit; rent-to-own products such as kitchen appliances; and insurance in less affluent postcodes. Our Campaign works with businesses, government, and regulators to design out the Poverty Premium. Our Venture Fund provides capital to help grow innovative ventures developing products that make markets fairer.

About Wayra

Wayra is the most global, connected and technological open innovation hub in the world. Under the Telefónica brand Wayra currently operates in 10 countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Germany, Mexico, Peru, Spain, the United Kingdom and Venezuela.

Our hubs have raised over $248 million through third-party investors for our companies. Our global presence allows us to be at the helm of innovation, shoulder to shoulder with driven entrepreneurs and in a position to engage the right partners, corporate leaders, investors, serial entrepreneurs and leaders of industries for business.

We have been committed partners for seven years and connect innovators with Telefónica and generate joint business opportunities. We offer unparalleled access to Telefónica’s 350 million customers and clients across multiple countries. We are a unique and effective interface between both entrepreneurs and our network of corporates, governments and other partners in the 17 countries in which Telefónica global operates.

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Bio-bean secures £4 million to disrupt markets reliant on use of virgin and scarce resources

ClearlySo helps bio-bean secure £4 million to disrupt markets reliant on use of virgin and scarce resources by recycling waste coffee grounds into advanced biofuels and biochemicals.

London, United Kingdom Bio-bean, the first company in the world to industrialise the process of recycling waste coffee grounds into advanced biofuels and biochemicals, announces that it has secured £4 million in equity funding with the help of ClearlySo, Europe’s leading impact investment bank. The funding round will enable bio-bean to launch new product lines and expand internationally.

Approximately 95 million cups of coffee are consumed per day in the UK alone, producing hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste coffee grounds annually. Currently, the majority of this waste goes to landfill where it emits methane, a greenhouse gas that is 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide. As well as damaging the environment, landfill is a costly method of waste disposal for businesses because of the UK government’s landfill tax.

Founded in 2013, bio-bean was set up on the belief that there is no such thing as waste, only resources in the wrong place. By offering a coffee waste recycling service to clients who produce spent coffee grounds (“SCG”) in large quantities such as cafes, office buildings and transport hubs, the company collects and transports the SCG to its factory where it is then transformed into a range of valuable bio-based products using a patent-pending process to extract the latent resource. This true circular economy business model has the potential to disrupt markets that are dependent on intensive use of virgin and scarce resources.

Chris Harrison, CEO of bio-bean, commented: “This investment is a hugely exciting development for bio-bean. It will enable us to push for even greater innovation in extracting commercial value from used coffee grounds otherwise considered a waste, helping to further strengthen bio-bean’s position at the forefront of the circular economy and increase the use of sustainable, second-generation resources.”

Jon Wright, investment manager at ClearlySo, commented: “Bio-bean is one of the best examples of a circular economy business that I have come across. Thinking about how we use waste and our limited resources is especially important as we drive towards a more sustainable future, and the massive opportunity presented by the circular economy is proving a popular theme with investors.”

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Notes to the Editors

About bio-bean

bio-­bean Limited is an award-­winning clean technology company, the first in the world to industrialise the process of recycling waste coffee grounds into advanced biofuels and biochemicals. bio-­bean works within the existing waste infrastructure, developing sustainable products and solutions to displace conventional fuels and chemicals.

About ClearlySo

ClearlySo is Europe’s leading impact investment bank, working exclusively with enterprises and funds delivering positive social, ethical, and/or environmental impact as well as financial return.

Originally founded in 2008, ClearlySo has helped more than 130 clients raise more than £250 million in impact investment from its extensive network of high-net-worth individual and institutional investors.

ClearlySo is headquartered in London.

Further Information

Sasha Byas / Matt Newman
Clarion Communications (bio-bean)
E
: sbyas@clarioncomms.co.uk /
mnewman@clarioncomms.co.uk
T: 0207 343 3213 / 0207 343 3121

John Lloyd
Chief Marketing Officer
ClearlySo
E
: john.lloyd@clearlyso.com
T: 02074909520

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Flawsome raises equity funding to scale sustainable beverage brand

Ethical and sustainable cold-pressed juice drinks brand, Flawsome, secures equity funding to scale its business operations and develop new products.

London, United Kingdom Flawsome Brands, an ethical and sustainable cold-pressed juice drinks brand, announces that it has raised equity funding with the help of ClearlySo, Europe’s leading impact investment bank. Flawsome plans to use the new funding to scale-up its marketing and operations capabilities as well as to develop and launch new products.

According to research from the University of Edinburgh, an estimated 4.5 million tonnes of fruit and vegetables are discarded in the UK each year for being the incorrect size or misshapen. In addition to wasted produce, an estimated 1,000,000 plastic drink bottles are bought every minute (or 20,000 per second) globally with less than 50% being collected for recycling and only 7% being turned into new bottles.

In a world where waste and environmental damage are major issues to be tackled, Flawsome offers an ethical juice brand that addresses the problem of millions of fruits and vegetables lying waste due to their size and shape while providing its customers with a healthy, natural, vegan drink in fully recyclable containers. By producing a three-fold sustainable product, Flawsome has already saved over 7.5 million fruits from being wasted; abated 400 tonnes worth of 608 CO₂ emissions (which equals 460 return flights from London to New York); and avoided the use of 330,000 plastic bottles, equivalent to 10 tonnes of plastic (the weight of 5 black cabs) – and one of the most common types on plastic waste.

Maciek Kacprzyk, co-founder and CEO of Flawsome, stated: “Matias and the ClearlySo team have been instrumental in supporting, mentoring and empowering us for the last 3 months through some exciting times. We are chuffed to reach our initial investment target and invite on Flawsome! board 7 impact and FMCG related investors coming from companies such as Unilever or Coca-Cola. With this support we believe to accelerate our impact and support even more farmers. Flawsome! is on the mission to create a world where food isn’t wasted needlessly and now we are ready to bring our impact to a whole new level.”

Matias Wibowo, investment director at ClearlySo, commented: “Flawsome is one of the few early-stage businesses in our pipeline that has shown strong traction in eliminating food-waste through the ethical consumerism movement that is now becoming mainstream. The business does so by utilising the strengths of both their brand and high-quality products. In addition, the team has done exceptionally in executing a cost-effective supply chain. All this excites our investors to get involved.”

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Notes to the Editors

About Flawsome!

Flawsome! exists to inspire society to rethink how they perceive food waste, by sourcing its high quality, artisan juice drinks from fruit and vegetables that are wonky, misshapen or surplus produce. Flawsome! products are also sold in sustainable packaging and does not require refrigeration, making their environmental impact even greater.

About ClearlySo

ClearlySo is the Europe’s leading impact investment bank, working exclusively with enterprises and funds delivering positive social, ethical, and/or environmental impact as well as financial return.

Originally founded in 2008, ClearlySo has helped more than 130 clients raise more than £248 million in impact investment from its extensive network of high-net-worth individual and institutional investors.

ClearlySo is headquartered in London.

Further Information

Karina Sudenyte
Co-Founder and CMO
Flawsome!
E
: karina@flawsomedrinks.com
T: 07908324671

John Lloyd
Chief Marketing Officer
ClearlySo
E
: john.lloyd@clearlyso.com
T: 02074909520

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Ichthion secures £1 million to remove plastics from rivers and oceans

Using award-winning and cutting-edge technologies to restore the ocean environment, Ichthion removes plastics and synthetic waste before they travel through the entire marine ecosystem.

London, United Kingdom Ichthion, a leading developer of disruptive technologies to remove plastics and synthetic waste from rivers and oceans, announces that it has secured £1 million in funding with the help of ClearlySo, Europe’s leading impact investment bank. Ichthion plans to use the new funding, a mixture of equity investment and grants, for hiring key staff, product optimisation and testing, and cashflow through to first commercial contract.

Plastics in oceans and water courses is increasingly a topic of public awareness. There is approximately 150 million tonnes of plastic in contaminated ecosystems with a further 12 million tonnes entering the marine environment annually. Approximately 90% of plastic pollution in the oceans is coming from 10 rivers and is forecast to triple by 2025 without significant interventions.

Ichthion has three systems to remove plastic from different bodies of water named Azure, Cobalt and Ultramarine. The model Azure was designed for deployment in rivers to prevent plastic waste from reaching marine environments, and it can collect up to 80 tonnes of plastic per day from any river. Current technologies can only manage up to 7 tonnes per day. Combined with the latest recycling technologies (as well as partnerships with a UK company developing cutting-edge technology for recycling) it is a real game-changer. 

The models Cobalt and Ultramarine use static infrastructures and transport systems respectively to recover plastic particles and microplastics from critical locations across the coastline and the ocean whilst safeguarding marine life. These technologies can reduce the cost of plastic pollution removal, per kilogram, by up to 97.5% on conventional methodologies. Also, they can offer a factor of 14 reduction on the next best competitor; with minimal input required through its self-cleaning and self-driving format. The systems enable the easy collection of plastic material without the need for deploying expensive and dedicated solutions, and reduce the requirement for additional support networks.

Ichthion have signed a LOI with the Ecuadorian government to deploy Azure systems in two of the most polluted rivers of the country, which was officially announced recently by the minister of Environment during the IV UN assembly for the environment. The plastics that leave from the rivers towards the Ecuadorian coasts are directed by the oceanic currents towards the Galapagos Islands, and for this reason it is important to avoid the flow of plastics.

Inty Grønneberg, co-founder and chief executive of Ichthion, stated: “Closing the round is a solid step for our company in our goal to reduce by 70% in 10 years the total amount of plastics entering into the oceans. We are now looking manufacturing companies that share our vision and would like to partner with us to speed up the deployment process worldwide.”

Hayley Collen, investment director at ClearlySo, commented: “ClearlySo is proud to help innovative businesses like Ichthion raise capital to develop and scale game changing solutions that dramatically reduce the amount of plastic waste in rivers and oceans.”

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Notes to the Editors

About Ichthion

The global ecosystem is under immense pressure, facing myriad problems both complex in nature and interwoven with uncertainty.

By addressing all aspects of a problem and fusing science, engineering, and design, Ichthion delivers radical, multifaceted technology solutions to counter the threat.

At Ichthion’s core lies a vision of a sustainable future, one that can be achieved though innovative technology and the elegant application of knowledge.

Ichthion has developed award-winning technology that can remove greater volumes of plastic from the world’s rivers and oceans than all existing technologies.

About ClearlySo

ClearlySo is the Europe’s leading impact investment bank, working exclusively with enterprises and funds delivering positive social, ethical, and/or environmental impact as well as financial return.

Originally founded in 2008, ClearlySo has helped more than 130 clients raise more than £248 million in impact investment from its extensive network of high-net-worth individual and institutional investors.

ClearlySo is headquartered in London.

Further Information

Inty Grønneberg
Co-founder and CEO
Ichthion
E
: i.gronneberg@ichthion.com

John Lloyd
Chief Marketing Officer
ClearlySo
E
: john.lloyd@clearlyso.com
T: 020 7490 9520

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ClearlySo makes new board appointments, prepares for future growth

ClearlySo welcome the appointment of Gillian Wilmot as chairman, joining recent board additions Tracy Lewis and Joseph Krant. 

London, United Kingdom ClearlySo, Europe’s leading impact investment bank, announces today that it has appointed Gillian Wilmot as chairman. Gillian has a strong background in the consumer sector before she developed a wide range of corporate, non-profit and government experience in a variety of fields. She is also an experienced mentor and has helped coach many high growth businesses and their executive teams.

Gillian joins two other recent board additions. Tracy Lewis is chairman of Inspired Thinking Group, and a non-executive director of Staffline Group Plc and Bluebella Lingerie, following a successful career as an entrepreneur in the retail sector. Joseph Krant, currently an associate partner at Catalyst Advisors Netherlands, has previously spent nearly 30 years at Dutch merchant bank Kempen & Co., which was sold to Dexia for approximately Euro 1 billion. Chris Hulatt, co-founder of Octopus Investments, joined in 2016 and remains on the ClearlySo Board.

The new board appointments come at a time of tremendous growth for ClearlySo and impact investing more broadly. In 2018, ClearlySo helped enterprise and fund clients raise a record £72m versus £45m in 2017. The 20 clients assisted last year included HCT Group, Bulb Energy, Unity Trust Bank and Ecoffee Cups. In addition, ClearlySo marked its 10-year anniversary in September.

Commenting on the new board appointments, Rodney Schwartz, chief executive of ClearlySo, said:

“We are absolutely thrilled to have brought such extraordinary talent to ClearlySo’s board at such an exciting time for the company. The diverse set of skills and experience of our new Board will position us extremely well for the future. I am especially pleased that Gillian has joined, as she has the rare quality to both add value directly and galvanise others in a common endeavour.”

Further commenting, Gillian Wilmot said:

“ClearlySo is an inspirational organisation, whose determination to ensure that business is a force for good is something I greatly admire and support. As demand for impact investing continues to surge, I look forward to helping ClearlySo further capitalise and develop its market leading position.”

Ends

Notes to the Editors

About ClearlySo

ClearlySo is Europe’s leading impact investment bank, working exclusively with enterprises and funds delivering positive social, ethical, and/or environmental impact as well as financial return.

Originally founded in 2008, ClearlySo has helped more than 130 clients raise more than £248 million in impact investment from its extensive network of high-net-worth individual and institutional investors.

ClearlySo is headquartered in London.

Gillian Wilmot bio

Gillian has been at the forefront of British business, up to board level, for more than three decades. Her success led to her becoming a government adviser on trade and industrial strategy.

Now, as a recognised Chairman and award-winning Non-Executive Director – as well as a writer and speaker on leadership – she uses her vast experience to train, mentor and advise today’s business leaders and those of tomorrow.

She is the founder of Board Mentoring, the Chairman of UK Coaching, has been highlighted in the Sunday Times Non-Executive Director Awards for her business acumen and is a pioneer in advancing the role of women with business. She was recently appointed as Chair of the Senet group, working with CEOs to promote responsible gambling.

In the 1980s, Gillian launched the award-winning and highly profitable Next Directory. During the following decade, she transformed the brand and profitability of Avon Cosmetics. And as one of the MDs at Royal Mail in the early 2000’s, she helped to kick-start the transformation and culture change of the business and its return to profitability.

Gillian has also been a key executive in companies such as Marks & Spencer, Boots, Avon Cosmetics and Littlewoods, has completed two turnaround roles as a CEO, led buyout bids and is a highly experienced leader within corporates, private equity and founder-owned arenas.

Through her global work with Board Mentoring, Gillian matches experienced Directors with CEOs and CFOs, and helps executives navigate their career paths by ensuring they are board-ready.

At UK Coaching, Gillian has been instrumental in harnessing the power of sport and coaching to increase leadership diversity, drive social inclusion and transform performance through health and well-being.

Gillian utilises her board experience within retail, energy, technology, leisure and insurance to help leaders achieve their ambitions and transform their businesses. She is currently writing A Mentor’s Guide To Leadership Success on how women and under-represented groups can succeed in business.

Joseph Krant bio

Joseph started his career more than thirty years ago at Pierson Heldring & Pierson, followed by a move to Slater Walker Europe in 1972. In 1973 Slater Walker acquired Kempen & Co, the Dutch Investment Bank. 28 years later, after a very successful period characterised by strong growth and a high profit level, Kempen & Co was acquired in December 2001 for approximately € 1 billion by Dexia (the Franco-Belgian financial services group) and was merged with Labouchere (a retail bank already part of Dexia bank). At the end of 2002, after having continued to manage the two banks as CEO under the name Dexia Bank Nederland, he decided to resign.

However, always looking for new challenges Joseph decided to found Catalyst Advisors with (his former colleague and partner at Kempen & Co/Dexia) Herman van Everdingen. Apparently, there was/is a great need for independent advisors, with an extensive experience in deal making and familiar with the process of mergers and acquisitions. Over the past 12.5 years he has managed Catalyst Advisors with great pleasure and has completed many successful transactions.

Tracy Lewis bio

After a successful career in fashion retail, Tracy joined private lingerie business Eveden in 2003, bringing in minority PE backing in 2006 to support business expansion. She devised and led a highly successful brand and international expansion, culminating in a trade sale to Japanese lingerie giant Wacoal in 2012. Following this success, Tracy’s achievements were acknowledged both Nationally and in the Midlands by EY as a recipient of Entrepreneur of the Year awards and by the BVCA as CEO of the year and exit team for the Midlands.

The following four years saw Tracy continuing to head up the autonomous Wacoal Europe division, expanding the reach of the UK designed portfolio, launching the brand design of Wacoal lingerie for the western consumer, and becoming a female spokesperson for the business across the East. During this time Tracy also held Non-Executive positions in both the not for profit and PE backed beauty sectors.

Tracy continued as CEO until 2016 and after a period acting as a board advisor to support the transition, she left to focus on a cross sector plural career and to further her volunteering and mentoring interests.

Since 2016, Tracy has held the position of NED & Chairman of RemCo for AIM listed Staffline Group Plc, the UK’s leading outsourced workforce and skills provider. In 2017 Tracy moved from NED to Executive Chair of PE backed, ITG, the dynamic and highly respected leader in the Tech-led Marketing industry and also joined the board of the multi award winning, high growth lingerie brand, Bluebella.

In addition to her various Board responsibilities, Tracy is involved in several mentoring initiatives, primarily focused on women in business and she also enjoys volunteering in areas related to youth employability and business skills development.

Further Information

John Lloyd
Chief Marketing Officer
ClearlySo
E
: john.lloyd@clearlyso.com
T: 0207 490 9520

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