As some of the regular readers might know, Ole Vestergaard has been writing some blog posts in the category of ‘Borrower Testimonials’ (see ‘Rubber wheels – they have to come from somewhere’ for instance), to give a few examples of how the loans actually affect entrepreneurs down south – from where I’m sitting in cold Copenhagen at the moment, that is. What I intend to do with this and some future blog posts, is to show some examples of the other side of the peer-to-peer spectrum – to tell some of the investors’ stories.
– What were your expectations to the investments when you first started on the MYC4 platform?, I’m asking Lau Laursen, CEO of among others companies LauRen ApS and AirCare.dk (also see his MYC4 profiles here and here).
– If I lost the money I had ‘put in’, I would be annoyed that the system didn’t work, but as long as someone ‘down there’ have gotten something out of the money, that’s damn fine!” he answers. I’m sitting in Lau’s office in Dragør, Denmark, doing an interview with a busy man, who has kindly cleared out two hours of his schedule to help out a student understand that business can be more than just earning a profit, and that there is more to life than individual wealth, I come to realize. Lau has been investing on the MYC4 platform since 2007 with profit from his companies, as part of a Corporate Social Responsibility-strategy (CSR).
Lau explains that he chooses which loans to invest in with his heart:
– I primarily pick women entrepreneurs, but I also very much like the loan projects that has to do with real estate and infrastructural aspects. I always think to myself ‘If I lived in Africa, then which kind of business would I start?’, he says.
– What about your future expectations to MYC4 then?
– I have no personal financial expectations, but I expect that MYC4 learns from their mistakes, so that the system in time becomes really good! Even if it takes five or ten years, as long as it evolves in the right direction, it’s okay, he says. I conclude that Lau can easily be categorised as a ‘social investor’, and it’s no secret that financially speaking, the ‘Profit & Loss’-sections of his two profiles, show some glowing red figures when looking at all years compared. Despite this the net result for 2011 alone though has had positive figures, though only slightly.
– The purpose of the investments through the company is to raise the motivation for the employees. Going to work knowing that your company intends to make at least some positive social impact in the world, is a good feeling when scrubbing filthy toilets. This way of doing it, is therefore mainly for the sake of the employees, Lau explains.
– What are your experiences with the investments on MYC4 so far?
Lau ponders for a little while.
– We have gotten a lot of goodwill out of it, that’s for sure, for the businesses, he says, and continues: I give lectures in ‘practical CSR’, wherein I always point out, that if CSR gets too complicated, then nothing comes out of it.
MYC4 as a CSR-tool for (small) companies, smart! I can’t stop wondering, whether the red financial figures from the past years, might outweigh the value of the gained goodwill and the social impact that the loans have been creating? One thing is for sure, Lau is indeed a social investor and a social entrepreneur, who earned my personal respect for his passion and ideas. For further reading, please also see Lau’s third company CoachKey.dk’s CSR-profile, wherein Lau has dedicated impressive 10 percent of the profit of the company to social purposes, such as building a school in the Philippines in the middle of the wilderness.