What was your first job?
As soon as I turned 14 and 9 months (the minimum age for kids to be employed in Australia) I started work in retail at BigW. It was a handy casual job with flexible hours, close to home.
When did you know you wanted to work in finance/business?
I always understood that “money doesn’t grow on trees” and balancing tight budgets was important. I studied Commerce/Finance and Law at university and at the same time worked in superannuation. It wasn’t until I started working at Macquarie Group, a global financial institution, that I experienced the opportunities that come from working in finance. It was during the GFC that I truly appreciated the positive and negative impacts that finance/business can have on society. This made me want to give back more – initially through donations and volunteer roles.
When did you first discover the concept of Impact Investing?
It was probably in the early 2000s, but it wasn’t until I became aware of Kiva in and then read “The International Bank of Bob” by Bob Harris around 2013 that I started to think more deeply and frequently about the potential of impact investing.
What’s one exciting development you and your team have in the pipeline? We soon will have more than 50% of our first fund invested so we’re working to scale the offerings and impact of our existing portfolio companies and at the same time we are looking for more social enterprises that are aligned with our mission of providing health care, education and protection to vulnerable children. We’re also planning what might come next for our team once this fund is fully invested.
What was the most interesting impact deal (from any team across Asia/Pacific) in the past 12 months?
Gosh, that’s so hard, it’s almost as though you’ve asked me to name my favourite child (in case that’s a follow up question, I have two kids – my favourite son and my favourite daughter)!
If I was pressed, one of the most interesting deals was our recent deal with Oho. We immediately understood the need for regular monitoring of accreditations such as working with children checks, the problem Oho was trying to solve, and we understood the practical difficulties organisations and Directors have in complying with their legal requirements. We knew there was a gap in the market.
We thought the Oho solution has great potential for real impact. From this base, we completed a detailed due diligence process on the product, business and team and decided to invest. We led the round so had the opportunity to work closely with CEO and Co-Founder Claire Rogers.
Oho was able to raise more than initially expected, at a time when the market was contracting. This has set Oho up well for expanding their product line and the impact of their business, and we’re excited to be partnering with them on their journey.
Name one high impact company (globally) that investors should keep their eye on?
This is hard too! Focusing on a company achieving high impact for children, my pick would be Litemore (Zeraki Analytics). It is a Kenya-based SaaS company that is addressing primary pain points in the education system in Kenya and surrounding countries. Their passionate, adaptable team provide schools with cost-effective solutions that save time, increase transparency and revenues, and promote parental and student engagement in learning.
What’s your vision for impact investing in 5 years time?
That there will be a greater understanding of what it means to be impactful, that investors will see value in impact in much the same was as they see value in dividends and capital gains, and transparent reporting (along the lines of the Impact Management Framework Spectrum) will mean rainbow washing is called out for the misleading practice that it is.
In July 2022, Julianne Wilkin moved into the role of Head of Impact Investing at Save the Children Australia. Julianne first joined Save the Children Australia in May 2021 as Legal Counsel for the Impact Investment Fund and Social Enterprises. Julianne has more than 20 years’ legal and commercial experience, including advising on new commercial ventures, investment opportunities, acquisitions and divestments. Julianne spent 15+ years at Macquarie Group where she led a team as General Counsel and Global Head of Legal & Tax for Corporate Asset Finance. For the past four years Julianne has focused on generating finance for social impact. She was General Counsel at The Fred Hollows Foundation prior to joining Save the Children Australia.