IKARE – a conduit for IK’s venture philanthropy activities

IKARE Ltd (pronounced “I care”) is an independent UK company limited by guarantee, and a registered charity, operated in accordance with the venture philanthropy principles. IKARE works closely with a limited number of strong social entrepreneurs with innovative solutions that have the potential to scale for systemic change. This does not happen overnight. Over the years, IKARE’s strategy has come to focus on strengthening access to quality healthcare services for marginalised communities to reduce the burden of disease.

Engaging in philanthropy has been an integral part of IK’s culture since the firm’s inception in 1989. As the IK partnership developed, the IK partners wanted to adopt a more structured and strategic approach also to the firm’s donations. Through bringing to the table our own experience in addressing strategic and operational issues, and setting targets for building stronger companies with different management teams, we believed we could contribute more than just funding to the causes in which we engaged through our CSR efforts. We wanted to make a difference, we wanted to federate staff and we wanted to leave something sustainable behind.

Out of these aims and ambitions in 2006 IK Aid and Relief Enterprise (IKARE) was born, kick-started by the Stamp Out Sleeping Sickness (SOS) initiative in Uganda. At the time, we did not know there was a name for our approach; we just did it intuitively. But later we discovered there was: venture philanthropy. As a practising venture philanthropist, IKARE belongs to the group of social impact investors labelled investors FOR impact, and is also an early signatory to the EVPA Charter.

Starting small-scale and focused, over these now 14 years of IKARE operations, a good number of lessons have been learnt (watch the short interview with IKARE Executive Director Anne Holm Rannaleet on topics such as the importance of patience and taking a long-term view here).

Providing multi-year tailored financial and non-financial support, IKARE sees its role as catalytic in enabling its “investees” to de-risk, test and pilot their solutions. In so doing, IKARE helps to leverage in other funders, public as well as private. Where improvements and outcomes/impact are measurable, and there is continuous feedback, this provides a platform for scaling and systemic change, whether in the strengthening of child registrations, immunisation and health services delivery in emerging countries, or the One Health approach in the control of the zoonotic sleeping sickness in Northern Uganda.

Since 2006, IK Partners has contributed over €1.5m to IKARE and has also provided valuable non-financial support through accounting, communication and IT services. IK intends to build on IKARE’s achievements to look at other initiatives in Africa and Europe.

IKARE

Of the 11 originally funded veterinary practices, five have achieved financial sustainability. Three of these came together in 2014 to form a joint purchasing company, the 3 V Vets Franchise. The Franchise now services five 3V Vets shops as well as a few independent shops across several districts in Northern Uganda.