Willows Investments was founded by Stephen Brenninkmeijer. Stephen is a member of the Brenninkmeijer family that founded the C&A clothing retail chain in 1841.
Stephen’s first experience with impact investing dates back to 2002, when, after 27 years of working with the family business, the concepts of venture philanthropy and social investing caught his attention. Having thoroughly researched the sector, Stephen launched Andromeda in 2003, the first bottom of the pyramid (BoP) private equity fund. It was funded by Cofra, the Brenninkmeijer family’s holding company.
Andromeda invested in seven businesses that ranged from social finance and microcredit platforms serving BoP markets to an innovative drug delivery and vaccination company based in Norway and a mobile telephone network in rural East Africa.
In 2007, Stephen created Willows Investments, using his personal assets to fund and support promising ventures with a social mission.
Role: Stephen sets the overall strategic direction for Willows Investments, takes an active role in the investment process and takes the final investment decisions. He works closely with the investee companies on the Boards and various committees.
Background: Stephen is a private impact investor and philanthropist. He has invested in over 15 businesses and funds. Prior to starting this activity in 2002, he worked for 27 years in his family business, C&A, in Europe, USA, Japan, etc.
Stephen is a member of the Board of responsAbility, Social Stock Exchange, Grassroots Business Fund, as well as a number of non-profit organisations.