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 potential to scale for systemic change. This does not happen over-night. Over the years IKARE’s strategy has come to focus on strengthening access to quality health care services for marginalised communities in order 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 also our own experience in addressing strategic and operational issues, and setting targets for building stronger companies together 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 IK Aid and Relief Enterprise (IKARE) was born in 2006, 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 to the causes we engaged with, we just did it intuitively. But later we discovered there was: venture philanthropy. As a practicing 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. (see short interview with IKARE Executive Director Anne Holm Rannaleet on eg the importance of patience and taking a long-term view).

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 also helps to leverage in other funders, public as well as private. Where improvements and outcomes/impact are measurable, and there is continuous feed-back, 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 have contributed around €2 million to IKARE and have 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.

One Health
Through our engagement in SOS Uganda and the 3 V Vets,  IKARE became acutely aware of how closely linked animal and human health, and corresponding well-being and livelihoods are, and that one needs to take an holistic approach. Again and again we are reminded of the fact that also many of the newly emerging communicable diseases are zoonotic in origin, and that having access to qualitative, reliable and timely data is key for informed decision making. This has continued to guide us as we have tried to better understand the root causes to certain issues and how we can best contribute in addressing gaps in health systems delivery and surveillance in low resource settings including improved awareness on the importance of basic hygiene.

IKARE

Out of the 11 originally funded veterinary practices, five 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 3 V Vets shops as well as a few independent shops across a number of districts in Northern Uganda.