Bridges to raise $75m impact fund for Israel investment

Sir Ronald Cohen Photo: Jonathan Bloom

Sir Ronald Cohen was one of the founders of the fund, which has an overall goal of aiding disadvantaged groups and narrowing social gaps.

Bridges Fund Management, which numbers Sir Ronald Cohen among its founders, will invest $75 million in Israel, sources inform "Globes." The fund has invested $1 billion in the US and the UK since it was founded. Bridges is in the final stages of raising $50 million from Discount Capital, Psagot Investment House Ltd., and private investors from Israel and other countries.

The fund's overall goal is to aid disadvantaged groups and narrow social gaps. The investments in Israel are expected to be in the same areas as its overseas investments: sustainability for the disadvantaged, education, health, and employment. The investments will be divided between small and medium-sized businesses operating in Israel, mainly in outlying areas and in disadvantaged communities, and technology companies with potential for generating positive social changes on a global scale.

Partner Michele Giddens, CEO Philip Newborough, and Cohen, who serves on the fund's advisory board, founded Bridges in 2002. The fund invests in businesses that have a promising economic model for making a return on the investment and are also socially useful. The fund's website states, "We believe in a better way of doing business. We strive to be ethical and responsible investors and asset-owners."

Gal Hayut, formerly of Apax Partners, who has managed Cohen's The Portland Trust in recent years, will manage the Israeli fund. The Portland Trust's goal is to promote peace and stability between Israel and the Palestinians through economic development. The Portland Trust works with Israeli and Palestinian partners to promote the Palestinian economy and social entrepreneurship in Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Besides Hayut, the new fund's management will include Orbix Medical vice-chairperson and CEO Sandrine Montsma and Bereshit fund managing partner Ran Grodecki. The new fund's chairperson will likely be Gemini Israel Ventures founder and managing partner Yossi Sela.

The initiative to establish the fund came from Cohen, a graduate of Oxford University and Harvard University, who founded Apax Partners and served as its active chairperson in 1972-2005. Cohen is one of the global leaders in social investment, and chairs the global steering committee for impact investments, an entity that replaced the G8's task force in the matter, which Cohen headed in 2000-2010. His recommendations led to the founding of Bridge Fund Management.

Cohen founded Social Finance Israel, a social investment concern that operates through bonds. One of Social Finance Israel's bonds is for reducing Type 2 diabetes morbidity, the treatment of which costs NIS 5 billion annually. This bond has raised NIS 19.4 million to date for aiding people at risk of the disease. The revenue model is payments from the Clalit and Leumit Health Funds, which stand to save on health expenses, and the National Insurance Institute, which saves on payments of allowances. The project includes devising a plan for prevention of Type 2 diabetes at the national level. Bridges is composed of several funds making investments in various areas.

The group's website reports that among other things, its health investments funded two million medical treatment hours for senior citizens and other vulnerable groups, saved 28,000 hospitalization days, helped over half a million people begin exercising in fitness rooms, helped 3,000 patients obtain help in their long-term health management, paid for 2.7 million medical prescriptions for disadvantaged groups, and provided good-quality medical treatment at home for 2,700 patients.

The group's achievements in education, environmental preservation, and areas in which people are living in poverty are on the same scale. Solutions are provided in finding employment, housing for hundreds of homeless people, and transportation for senior citizens. In education, the fund invests in encouraging entrepreneurship in schools, including young people at risk in vocational training, treatment of children as risk before and after school, and support for students. In the environment, the Bridges funds invest in areas such as production of renewable energy, reducing polluting emissions, and treatment of waste.

No response was obtained from Bridges or Hayut.

Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - - on March 15, 2018

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018

Sir Ronald Cohen Photo: Jonathan Bloom
Sir Ronald Cohen Photo: Jonathan Bloom
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