Learnings from Israel – The Start-Up Nation. An interview with Cecile Blilious (Head of Impact & Sustainability at Pitango Venture Capital, Israel’s largest VC)
This year changed the thinking and action of our society and economy. As a part of our new conversations series „a look into the future – new paths and directions after the crisis” we invite you to our online discussion on Sustainable Development Goals and investments in start-ups combining high-tech and impact.
Andreas E. Mach and Albert M. Geiger discussed with Cecile Blilious on:
- Sustainable Tech investments
- The Israeli perspective on an investment with purpose
- The Tech Hot Spot Europe
- The Investors’ Perspective (LP, Investor, Fund, Family).
- Israel is known as the “Startup Nation” as the country provides an excellent environment for entrepreneurs. However, in the last decade, Israel has developed even further into a “Scale-Up-Nation” as more and more large companies have been built that provide amazing tech AND market solutions.
- The entrepreneurial mindset in Israel is part of the country’s DNA.
- Impact Tech refers to how science and technology are creating positive social and environmental outcomes along financial returns → in the tech domain maximizing profit and maximizing impact therefore go hand in hand because the business and the product themselves create the impact
- In order to have impact tech you have to have tech first → Israel is an adequate market to lead the world in impact tech due to its abundance of tech startups.
- Impact investments are increasing (https://thegiin.org/research/publication/impinv-survey-2019) → However the investments in impact tech only account for a minimal amount of all impact investments (2 billion out of a 715 billion dollar market are being directed towards impact tech).
- The COVID-19 crisis has shown people around the world how things can go wrong and has reminded them of what they care about.
- Investors have the opportunity to direct companies and economic development towards more sustainability by valuing impact, a sustainable business model and a company’s ESG strategy.
- Companies that are complying with ESG practices and the Sustainable Development Goals have at least 4 reasons why they are more profitable, more resilient and overall better as an investment:
- The companies become much more attractive to employees and attract young talents who want to do a job with purpose
- The purpose motivates employees and as a result productivity rises by up to 30%
- The companies have a better access to capital
- The story gets customers to buy and stay loyal and attracts new customers
- Innovation tends to die in large corporations with slow decision-making processes →Large corporations should integrate innovation but not swallow it internally.
- Cooperation between Israel (with many innovative ideas and startups) and Germany (with engineering and process know-how) is a “match made in heaven” but it requires the right people in place and a lot of effort.
- In the future risk, return and impact will be important measures when valuing a firm!
Cecile is the Head of Impact & Sustainability at Pitango Venture Capital, Israel’s largest VC, where she is responsible for adapting the worlds of ESG and the SDGs to the framework of mainstream venture capital. Cecile has extensive experience in the combination between the impact and technology worlds for almost 20 years. Previously, Cecile was the Founder and Managing Partner of Impact First Investments, Israel’s first impact investing company.
Before that, Cecile managed the Noaber Foundation’s Israeli investments and held executive positions as a founder, CEO and board member is several startups. She was one of the initiators of the Al-Bawader private equity fund, the first investor in Arab-founded startups. Cecile founded the mentorship program at the „Keren Shemesh“ Foundation for the Encouragement of Young Entrepreneurs as her community volunteering work.
Cecile recently founded and is the chairperson of GITA (the Global Impact Tech Alliance) – a global non-profit organization aiming to serve the impact-tech community worldwide and help it scale through community activities, data aggregation, training and consulting.
She is an alumnus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and is an avid practitioner of Tai-Chi martial art. https://www.pitango.com
Cover: Simon Gehrke Kommunikationsdesign www.simongehrke.de