How iDeals helps FinanceEarth simplify financing for renewable energy
Headquartered in Vauxhall, Finance Earth is a wholly employee-owned social enterprise with an impressive reinvestment rate of 51% of its profits going towards its mission: diverting private capital to fill the global conservation funding gap.
Two years ago, they started working with iDeals to securely handle the financing of the Community Owned Renewable Energy (CORE) LLP fund, a program that invests in and restructures renewable energy projects allowing for a transition to community ownership.
After looking at many Virtual Data Rooms, they concluded that only iDeals met their criteria o having “a user-friendly appeal to their partners, efficient features to implement automation, and a professional image that impresses potential investors.”
Finance Earth is a London-based social enterprise that provides advisory and fund management services focused on conservation and climate change. Finance Earth is the fund manager of CORE LLP.
With over a 3-year investment period, Finance Earth deployed the full CORE LLP fund into a number of UK-based Renewable energy projects and then restructured and optimized the portfolio to attract low-cost institutional capital.
This allowed Finance Earth to transition the portfolio towards long-term community ownership.
In 2020, Finance Earth had been using DropBox to exchange data with and from employees and stakeholders. But, looking to start the financing project around the CORE Partners fund – a £50m investment program targeting solar farms for community ownership – they decided they needed a purpose-built, more intuitive tool to handle the transaction.
After looking into various data rooms and evaluating their security levels and potential impact on productivity, they chose iDeals specifically because they “needed the most user-friendly technology to work with a large number of investors and supporting parties for the transaction”.
Before using iDeals, their team faced multiple challenges; the most concerning was the proliferation of duplicate documents, often filed under different names. It was also complicated and, most times, impossible to control who saw the data and when.
Looking at preparations for the transaction, their essential requirements were to:
- Grant multiple users easy access to a single secure document storage facility
- Manage different access levels for multiple users intuitively
- Improve the process of uploading documents – they wanted a desktop application and an online version with the option of dragging and dropping all data from the native folders.
- Improve organization with automatic indexing
- Have a mechanism for notifying key stakeholders of data room activity to speed up projects.
When asked to name their favorite things about iDeals, Finance Earth decided on the following:
- Multiple permissions levels – looking back on the project so far, the team agrees that those are the most impressive features. “That’s something iDeals is good at – really structured permissions,” and “that was really helpful for us because we had lawyers, auditors, asset managers, technical advisors, investors, insurance advisers, needing different views.” Finance Earth noted that this functionality was more simple under the iDeals platform than through other platforms reviewed.
- Intuitive design and unlimited training – Ease of use had always been the primary reason for selecting iDeals, and during the project, this was confirmed by different stakeholders “we did not have to explain to investors how to use the system, it was something that they could go into, and that was immediately transparent and very simple to work through.”
- Numerous automation features – the automatic indexing and the instant document notifications were effortless to configure and, along with the drag and drop for data importing, boosted the efficiency and organization of the project flow. Using the desktop application for bulk uploading and then checking how it looked in the online version was truly considered a game-changer by the team.
In the future, the enterprise is confident of its continuous role as a powerful financial tool to restore and secure our planet.
Having completed the first part of the CORE partners project, FinanceEarth is reopening its virtual data room for the next stage and wishes to continue using it to collaborate with developers, government, businesses, and investors for environmental and social advances.
Looking back, the Finance Earth Team jokes that, as well as being able to structure financial products to accelerate the delivery of capital, they were delighted that “finishing the transaction on that Christmas Eve gave us all a great Christmas!”