Randa Bennett and Patricia Salume started a payments business, VeeLoop, in 2017. Born from their experience as parents, it gave kids & their parent’s protection when shopping online and retailer cover from a GDPR and contractual minefield. When the coronavirus pandemic hit in early 2020, they could see an immediate problem that their tech solution could help – reimbursing volunteers helping the vulnerable. From attempting to quickly do some good, has been born a whole new business – vHelp – a series of solutions for charities, volunteering organisations and local authorities to solve the burden and security of reimbursing volunteers.


Insight driven solutions

When assessing investment opportunities, unique, new market insight gives confidence that a product or service or experience is going to be innovative. Maybe moving countries from Iraq (Randa) and Brazil (Patricia) makes them particularly alive to new, inspiration insight. They are certainly empathetic individuals adept at spotting unsolved problems.

The first vHelp product was a quick response to the explosion in volunteers shopping for the vulnerable at the start of coronavirus lockdown.  The main incumbent solution was cash – insecure, less than ideal when trying to avoid physical contact and with no audit trail for organisations facilitating volunteers and the vulnerable. The vulnerable person or the organisation helping them registers a payment card. The volunteer scans a shopping receipt and is immediately reimbursed for the cost of the shopping.

Whilst talking to volunteering organisations about this solution, Patricia and Randa were led to another money transfer problem for charities; reimbursing expenses. Commercial expenses solutions are designed for employees, not volunteers. But the burden on charities can be huge (the National Trust has 53,000 volunteers alone).

This turn has led to another payments area – beneficiaries – for monitoring and tracking the application of grant funding that needs an audit trail when deployed by charities on individuals.

A sector in need

A sector in need

So vHelp is now turning into a proposition that provides charities, volunteering organisations and local authorities a suite of tools to administer payments of various kinds to a dispersed community of volunteers.

This is a growing area – with underlying growth hugely accelerated by various aspects of the coronavirus pandemic. Initially volunteers helping the vulnerable but then extending to huge armies that are facilitating test & trace and vaccination. The Community Volunteer Services that are aligned to the NHS Trusts are increasing their volunteers from 30 or 40 to 2,500 plus to cover the 26 shifts a week needed in a vaccine centre.

Making an impact

Charities and local authorities are both notoriously difficult to sell into, but once onboard have a stickiness that is attractive. vHelp now have a growing book of customers and are adding hundreds of volunteers per month. The value of their proposition is being proven, and the pricing model (based on per active volunteers each month) is being taken up. From an investor perspective, an attractive, low churn recurring revenue software as a subscription (SaaS) commercial model has emerged.

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