Ogunte: How did Buzzbnk start, Theresa?
TB: Together with serial social entrepreneur, Michael Norton OBE, we co-founded Buzzbnk, a platform for crowd-funding social enterprises. It is a new way for people to support and participate in social investment and change.
I am originally from Canada, have previously lived in Mexico and Switzerland, and am a British citizen.
Ogunte: What is the buzz about Buzzbnk?
TB: Buzzbnk is an online marketplace that brings together social ventures looking for funding and people who are keen to support social initiatives with small amounts of money. Social ventures can create tailored fundraising structures, including a mix of loan (revenue participation, interest bearing, or principle only), donation, and pre-sales of goods or services.
Buzzbnk’s vision is to be the leading online marketplace for the crowd-funding of social ventures.To this end, over five years we seek to build an online community with over 5,000 social ventures raising over 12 million pounds and an active community of over 100,000 users who fund more than one project on Buzzbnk.
After 16 years in the private sector, delivering e-business and internet solutions as well as other business solutions internally at a very large financial services corporation I had a reflection point reviewing where I wanted to go next with my career.
I had been interested in the developments in the 3rd sector, particularly the emergence of the concept of Social Enterprise. I also wanted to consolidated and expand the business acumen I had developed while in my previous roles. To achieve this I attended the Sloan Fellowship programme at the London Business School – an MBA for mid-career senior professionals.
After graduation I volunteered in the 3rd sector as a way to begin the transition and cross-over. There I met a serial social entrepreneur, Michael Norton, who had a fantastic idea and was looking for a partner to launch “crowd-funding for social enterprises”. Together we brought the various elements together – fundraising, finance & the internet. We shared the same vision – a new way for people to support and participate in social investment and change.
I had never imagined that one day I would start a company, but the idea and opportunity was so compelling that I began this journey of being a social entrepreneur in March of 2009.
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