On the 26th of June 2022, our annual general meeting took place – again in a virtual setting via Zoom. After a warm welcome by board member Florian Kollewijn, the informal part of the event started. Students, repayers, investors and employees of CHANCEN eG had the opportunity to introduce themselves and get to know each other in small groups in breakout rooms.
Afterwards, the developments of our cooperative in 2021 were reported. The solidarity community has received a guarantee from the EU: The EIF guarantee of up to € 6 million secures a portfolio volume of up to € 30 million. In addition, we worked intensively on preparing the financing of living expenses, which is now possible from 2022. We recorded growth of 40% in the number of students supported, and expanded our network of partner institutions by 10%. One of our most important announcements: After the planned losses over the last years, our organization achieved a net profit for the first time! In the future, surpluses are also planned in order to compensate for the losses accumulated according to plan in the early years. The goal here is not high profits, but to remain slightly profitable to cover all costs and pay dividends. Impact investing was also a complete success: the next growth phase will be financed with equity and mezzanine capital of € 9 million.
Next, Nathalie Hubschneider, Head of Student and Partner Services, went into detail about growth and scalability. Despite a difficult situation for first-year students and universities due to the pandemic, we closed 13% more ISAs than in the previous year, supported 11% more medical students in the EU and received 21% more applications. We also improved the application process in 2021 and shortened the duration of funding interviews. We also placed a focus on medical schools in the EU. Furthermore, we increased our fairness and brought in an external anti-discrimination consultant to ensure that our application process is as non-discriminatory as possible. Finally, another area of focus was the preparation of financing of living expenses, as already mentioned. The development of this new product was successfully advanced and, since the beginning of 2022, makes it possible for students of human medicine, economics, social affairs and computer science as well as bootcamp participants to receive funding with payouts of up to €5,000 per month.
For our subsidiary CHANCEN International, the Managing Director Batya Blankers reported directly from Rwanda. A growth of 17% was achieved in the number of sponsored students by the first quarter of 2022 and the gender split, i.e. the proportion of female members, is above the planned target at 79%. The gGmbH placed a lot of emphasis on “Ecosystem Work” in 2021. In addition to forming a technical, vocational training ministry sub-sector working group, a nationwide survey of graduates was designed and implemented together with the Ministry of Labor. Research on repayment behavior began in partnership with the University of Chicago to determine what motivates individuals to and in repayment. Two other highlights: The Future of Work Fund has already acquired $17 million in funding. The Future of Work Fund will fund 10,000 students in Sub-Saharan Africa, both to achieve high impact and to demonstrate that the ISA works in emerging and developing African countries. To this end, CHANCEN International expanded its offering to South Africa last year: Together with a local partner, the first students are financed with the Income Share Agreement.
As a conclusion of the first part, Josephin Zwerenz from the Student and Alumni services presented the newly developed mentoring program. In an interactive way, the participants of the event exchanged about their fears and challenges when starting their careers. The framework of the mentoring program was defined as follows: It is a support and advice program lasting approximately 12 months, which is designed individually between mentor and mentee. CHANCEN eG provides support if needed.
After one and a half hours, the General Assembly began. Members had the opportunity to actively shape the development of the cooperative through elections and votes. The tool “Votebox” was used for this purpose. Members were thus able to vote anonymously; in addition, external parties had the opportunity to participate in the event. Olaf Lampson, CFO of CHANCEN eG, led through the profit and loss statement and the balance sheet of 2021 to enable the participants to make well-founded decisions. For the first time, CHANCEN eG achieved a surplus of around € 40,000. The annual financial statement, the surplus appropriation and the ratification of the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board were approved by the General Meeting. The candidates for election to the Supervisory Board then introduced themselves. Dr. Sandra Reich and David Reichwein were re-elected; Christin Paul, Dr. Hans-Georg Beyer and Franziska Reh are new members of the Supervisory Board, which now consists of seven people.
Subsequently, an amendment to the statutes was made. The Social Committee was added to the statutes as a new body. The background: Due to the increasing number of repayers, it is possible that some of these people will not be able to repay for a year or will not be able to pay sufficiently even though they earn above the minimum income. Fair solutions are to be found for these hardship cases – both for the cooperative and for the affected repayers. For this purpose, the Social Committee, now institutionalized, is a suitable tool. In addition, Reginie Sunder Raj, anti-discrimination consultant at CHANCEN eG, explained precautions taken by the Social Committee to minimize implicit biases and make decisions that are as fair as possible. Vanida Melanie Schwing, Melvin Rinkleff and Liv Reinhold were elected to the Social Committee by the General Assembly.
Afterwards, some participants met for dinner near the office to end the virtual event with personal exchanges.
We would like to thank all participants very much for the great Annual General Meeting, the exciting questions and suggestions.
See you next year!