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A family office making an impact – with some serious connections

An investment office called Small Giants is making a big push to be about as committed to impact investing as can be by building a big portfolio of mostly environmental and social-linked assets. Behind it stands one of Australia’s biggest family office networks and investment groups.

Set up ten years ago by Danny Almagor and Berry Liberman, Melbourne-based Small Giants has a portfolio of more than 25 investments, and pretty much all of them are linked to a wider purpose than just making money. These include the Impact Investment Group, a fund manager that does what it says on the tin and has invested in renewable energy projects and commercial property with a brief to make them more energy efficient.

Small Giants has also backed another impact investing group called Patamar Capital, which invests in South-east Asia. The family office also invested directly in a number of renewable energy initiatives like Vivid Technology and a community-run wind farm group called Hepburn Wind.

Other social investments include a homeless food initiative called Streat, Social Ventures Australia, a hazelnut business based in Bhutan, and a magazine called Dumbo Feather, which is edited by Berry Liberman.

Small Giants says its investment philosophy is all about emphasising a new way of doing business –  “we believe in a new way of doing business: one that places social and environmental outcomes as centrally to our being as profit,” according to its website. “We believe that everybody benefits from this model of impact investing, which combines the scalability and impact of business with the altruism of philanthropy.”

Berry is a member of one of Australia’s wealthiest families. Her grandfather Jack Liberman was a first-generation immigrant to Australia who built up a sizable retail, property and investment empire in his adopted home. In 2016, the Australian Financial Review estimated the family’s fortune to be worth around A$2.5 billion.

Berry is also a director of another Liberman-linked family office called LJCB Investments (Lee, Joshua, Cassy and Berry Investment), which is chaired by her brother Joshua. LJCB invests in slightly more plain vanilla assets, including a property investment group called CVS Lane Capital Partners. LJCB was also an early backer of the Australian employment group Seek, which successfully listed on the Australian stock exchange back in 2005.

Another brother of Berry is Justin, who is the co-founder Square Peg Capital, a Melbourne-based venture capital firm that’s made some savvy investments, including a $1 billion investment into Uber. Square Peg is also strongly linked to the thriving tech sector in Israel. On top of all this, Justin is CEO of his own family office called Jagen.

Berry along with her two brothers are the children of Boris Liberman, who is the chairman and chief executive of another private investment office called JGL Investments.

It would appear the Liberman family is making an impact across the board…in the wonderful world of investing.

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