Sunday 25 August 2019

Berber closes social enterprises matchmaking site


Philip Berber has closed Enable Impact
Philip Berber has closed Enable Impact

John Reynolds

Dublin-born entrepreneur Philip Berber has closed Enable Impact, an online investment platform for social enterprises that he founded in 2015. The entrepreneur, who is based in Austin, Texas made a €488m fortune when he sold Cyber Corp, a share-trading firm he founded, shortly before the dotcom crash in 2000.

Speaking about Enable Impact last year, he told this newspaper that he aimed to help for-profit businesses with a social mission raise €45m over three years.

Berber, who also founded the Ethiopian water well charity A Glimmer of Hope, invested €700,000 of his and his wife's money in establishing the platform. Initially it operated as a searchable database used free of charge by ventures, entrepreneurs and investors to match with each other. Last year, however, the platform partnered with US broker-dealer North Capital, becoming fully regulated and fee-based, focusing more on investment services to curate a deal flow for like-minded wealthy investors.

Rather than earlier-stage ventures that would have been among those attracted to the platform in its early days and that might have needed both seed and growth funding, from last year it instead sought growth-stage, vetted ventures that had a lead investor and wanted to bring in co-investors.

In a recent email to supporters, Berber said: "We had some success, and we did help fund a number of deals. Yet we were unable to fund enough deals to generate enough fees to build a sustainable business. Any deal, however strong, appeals to a limited few. We didn't add enough value to enough investors to keep going."

The online platform attracted investors and ventures from all over the world. Larger fund managers tended to rely on their own peer and co-investor networks, rather than seeking them out online, Berber added, and said the investments that were made through the platform "were few and small".

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