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.
DR JULIA BALANDINA JAQUIER, CFA
Role: Julia advises Willows Investments on strategic issues and is directly involved in all angles of investment and portfolio management process, leading the due diligence and structuring of investments.
Background: Julia is a seasoned impact investor who has been providing funding and strategic support to privately held businesses and investment funds for 18 years. She has invested in over 50 companies and funds and has served on multiple Boards and Investment Committees. This includes her current role as Board and Investment Committee member at SIFEM, Swiss Development Finance Institution, which manages the $0.5 bn.+ impact investment mandate of the Swiss Government.
As the founder of JBJ Consult, Julia works with private, institutional and sovereign investors, helping them to develop and implement impact investment programmes. Julia is the author of the Guide To Impact Investing for Family Offices and High Net Worth Individuals (www.guidetoimpactinvesting.net).
Having started her career at McKinsey in 1993, Julia subsequently held senior positions at ABB Financial Services and AIG Investments, where, after co-managing the European private equity investment business, she pioneered and led a $150 m. impact investment fund and was instrumental in developing further mission-driven investment programmes.