Crowdfunding or "participatory finance" is a financial innovation that allows individuals to give, lend, or invest in a company, through an online platform. In this way, it allows individuals to invest in companies of their choice to finance projects that are in line with their values.
There are 4 types of crowdfunding:
- Donation-based crowdfunding: donors give an unconditional gift
- Reward-based crowdfunding: donors make a donation in exchange for a reward
- Equity crowdfunding: investors invests in the capital of a company, and therefore receive a small piece of equity in the company. This is the heart of LITA.co's activity !
- Crowdlending: lenders make a loan with an interest rate
Equity crowdfunding is an equity financing solution for companies who are in their start-up and/or growth phase. Individuals can invest directly in the capital of a company (through shares) of their choice or grant a long-term loan (in the form of bonds) and thereby become what we call an "impact investor".
In response to the expansion of crowdfunding activities in Belgium, a law that recognizes and provides a legal framework for crowdfunding was approved on 18 December 2016. This law aims to protect investors while allowing for the development of Alternative Financing Platforms ("AFP") such as crowdfunding platforms.
Platforms recognized as AFPs also fall under the jurisdiction of the Belgian Financial Markets and Services Authority (FSMA).
Social entrepreneurship is a new way of doing business which involves using economic efficiency and innovation for the benefit of positive societal transformation. To achieve this, the social entrepreneur develops a business with a sustainable and viable economic model in order to meet a social, societal or environmental need that has not been met.
Impact investing, or investing with a social impact, is a novel approach to investing which makes it possible to combine financial return and social impact. This approach enables investors to contribute towards the positive transformation of society thanks to ethical and solidarity-based financing.
Investing with a social impact means investing in the long-term in order to allow the company to reach its economic objective, but also to respond to social, societal and/or environmental needs that have been identified and measured. This type of investment allows for a financial return of between 1% to 7% per year.
LITA.co is an equity crowdfunding platform dedicated to social entrepreneurship and to sustainable development. Set up in 2014 by Eva Sadoun and Julien Benayoun in France, LITA.co , formerly known as 1001PACT, has collected more than 16 million euros from over 15.000 investors to successfully finance more than 50 campaigns. Due to its growth, LITA.co has duplicated its model in Belgium with the help of its shareholders, the financial cooperative CREDAL and the 4Wings Foundation.
Accredited by the Belgian Financial Markets and Services Authority (FSMA), we enable individuals to invest, as of € 100, in enterprises having a strong positive impact. Today, LITA.co has 20 employees spread across three countries: France, Belgium and Italy.
LITA.co's mission is to democratize impact investment by directing individuals' savings towards the financing of companies that generate social and sustainable innovation.
Our platform connects individuals wishing to give a sense of purpose to their money and companies that we carefully select on the basis of their social impact, responsibility in terms of ESG criteria (Environmental, Social and Governance) and economic potential.
Today, LITA.co offers three different types of investment opportunities: investment in shares, bonds and cooperative shares.
Our ambition is to actively contribute towards reducing social and environmental inequalities in the world by offering everyone the possibility to invest in companies with a demonstrable positive impact on our society.
This is why we want to enable you to:
- Create a 100% responsible, 100% transparent, 100% investment online portfolio.
- Give a sense of purpose to your savings anywhere in the world.
- To be accompanied by our teams, if you wish, when investing in companies that have a positive impact near you.
The name LITA.co is an acronym for our 4 commitments:
LIVE: You want to have a more responsible and sustainable lifestyle. We are committed towards ensuring that your savings are in line with this lifestyle by making them more meaningful.
IMPACT: You want to have a positive impact on society, whether it is social or environmental. As part of our mission, we also want to have a positive impact and that is why we only offer you the possibility to invest in companies that are in line with your values.
TRUST: Many of you are experiencing a lack of confidence in the traditional financial system, marked by its excesses and abuses. We are committed to enabling you to invest in all transparency and to supporting you throughout your investment process.
ACT: Beyond investing, you wish to invest yourself. We offer you the opportunity to experience an entrepreneurial adventure where you will be able to meet, and even personally support, the social entrepreneurs to whom you have entrusted your savings.
We are accredited by the Belgian Financial Markets and Services Authority (FSMA) as an Alternative Financing Platform ("AFP").
We are also a certified "Benefit Corporation" (B Corp): a company that works for the benefit of society, nature and humans. B Corp is a demanding international label, awarded to companies that have a positive impact on society and the environment. It is also a network of women and men who share the same humanistic vision of the economy.
When a company solicits LITA.co, we carry out a qualitative analysis of the company :
1) A first selection is made on the basis of 4 fundamental criteria: the economic viability of the company, its social/environmental impact, its responsibility and its regulatory compliance.
2) Our economic analysts then carry out a thorough financial and extra-financial analysis of the company, called a due-diligence. This exercise consists of evaluating the company according to our grid of criteria which takes into account its value proposition, its social impact, its business model, the market, the financial forecasts, the skills of the team, the degree of innovation and other Environmental, Societal and Governance (ESG) criteria.
3) The company pitches before an investment committee composed of financial experts, business angels, sectoral or business specialists, and entrepreneurs.
4) After validation by the investment committee, we kickstart the crowdfunding campaign and present the file to individual investors ("the crowd") on the platform and to our financial partners for co-financing opportunities.
We also put in place a tailored financing offer, we agree with the company and potential investment partners on a fair valuation and negotiate the terms of the shareholders' agreement which will defend the interests of the entrepreneurs and of the investors.
By investing through LITA.co, in a company chosen by our analysts and investment committee, you benefit from a number of advantages:
1) A low entry ticket (minimum investment is €100) in the capital of a company with a positive social, societal and/or environmental impact.
2) You have access to a selection of social entreprises that have been carefully chosen on the basis of financial and extra-financial criteria. Only 6% of candidate companies are selected to go onto the platform.
3) You can follow the development of the company in complete transparency under the same conditions as other investors in the company.
4) You can benefit from a potential return on investment through: dividends and / or a capital gain on the sale of your shares, which in turn will depend on the success of the company, or a periodic coupon payment in the case of an investment in bonds.
5) You can benefit from a tax advantage known as the tax-shelter, which allows you to deduct 25%, 30% or 45% of the amount of your investment from your income notice when you invest in a scale-up, SME or micro-enterprise.
Investing in a young social enterprise means that you are investing in the real economy. Whatever type of investment you choose to make, you are sure to have a positive impact on society. You also participate directly in our social mission: the creation of jobs, and the emergence of innovative and sustainable solutions to contemporary social issues.
When you invest in a fund, you delegate the management of your savings to managers who choose companies (sector, size, etc.) and geographical areas for you. You do not have the same level of transparency and there are many fees involved. By investing through LITA.co, you select a company of your choice. You have full transparency of your investment, as well as visibility on the use of your savings and its impact.
You also benefit from a follow-up through:
- a Shareholder's Agreement: an agreement between the investors and the entrepreneurs that sets out the governance of the company, protects individual shareholders and promotes the liquidity of the investment. LITA.co defends the interests of the investors and the entrepreneurs that we support.
- a continuous relationship between the investors and the company ensured by LITA.co (through invitations to physical and virtual meetings).
- an online platform that gives you an overview of your investment portfolio (financial and extra-financial reporting, access to tax certificates and other information).
LITA.co only offers investments in companies with a positive social and/ or environmental impact. In order to diversify your investments, LITA.co offers the possibility to invest in different sectors (health, social real estate, renewable energy, society, economic development etc), and different investment products (shares, bonds and cooperative shares). These different products have different characteristics in terms of risk, financial potential, liquidity and taxation.
LITA.co steps in at a specific stage of the development of a company, in order to bring the complementary financing necessary to change the scale of the project.
Companies on LITA.co are companies with a strong social impact but also with a strong economic potential, and which have, on average, existed for 2 to 4 years. The founders have already invested time and money in their project, borrowed from banks and/or benefitted from grants, and they now need additional funds to be able to invest in key skills, accelerate the production and marketing of their product, increase their visibility through mass marketing, to recruit new users/customers or to develop internationally and conquer new markets.
LITA.co allows you to invest in start-ups (first fundraising round) but also in more mature companies looking to continue their development.
An investment in shares allows you to become a shareholder of the company that is fundraising and to be owner of a part of its capital. For this reason, the investor and the entrepreneur(s) are bound by a shareholders' agreement which gives you the right to be informed about the development of the company in which you have invested. Possibilities to exit the company, that is, to sell your shares, exist after 4-5 years. These possibilities are set out and governed by the shareholders' agreement.
It should always be kept in mind that an investment in shares remains risky and that there is always a possibility of losing all or part of your initial investment. The return on your investment will depend on the economic and financial state of the company after 5 years. There are also liquidity risks that depend on the possibility of repurchasing shares. LITA.co works with entrepreneurs and investors to ensure that you have the best chance of a positive exit.
An investment in the shares of a social enterprise also entails an entrepreneurial adventure, allowing you to invest yourself in a transparent way, without an intermediary, in a company of your choice.
Finally, it is important to note that by investing in the shares of an SME or micro-entreprise, you can benefit from a tax reduction of up to 25, 30% or 40% on your income notice. For more information on this tax advantage, visit our page on the Tax Shelter .
Your shareholder rights are governed by company law:
1) Voting rights based on the principle of "one share, one vote"
2) Entitlement to dividends, proportional to the number of shares held
3) A reinforced and regular right to information
4) A right to exit depending on the scenario (entry of a new shareholder, change in the governance, etc)
Other rights and duties are stipulated in the shareholders' agreement. The shareholders' agreement is negotiated between LITA.co, the founders of the company fundraising and other co-investors. We recommend that you read the shareholders' agreement before investing.
The return on investment varies according to the development of the company. A return is usually envisioned as of the 5th year the investment, as a minimum. It consists of:
- dividends paid by the company in proportion to the number of shares/units held. Payment of dividends is not systematic during the first 5 years. At this stage of development, if the company makes a profit, companies can reinvest this into the development and the social purpose of the company. The company has to reach a certain level of maturity before it can pay dividends.
- the capital gain made when selling your shares. The possible exit scenarios are: the repurchase of shares by the majority shareholders or by an external shareholder (business angel, investment fund, group of companies) or an IPO (initial public offering). The exit possibilities are discussed at the General Meeting, in the presence of the entrepreneurs and investors.
If you invest, via LITA.co, in a company that qualifies as a scale up, SME or micro-entreprise, you can benefit from a tax reduction of up to 25%, 30% or 40% on your income notice. For more information on the type of companies that qualify for this tax benefit, visit our page on the Tax Shelter.
At the end of the fundraising campaign, in addition to your subscription form that you sign at the end of your investment, we will make available, in your personal space on the platform, all the documents needed to prove your investment:
- The tax certificate confirming that you are in possession of the shares in the year of the investment;
- Annual certificates proving that you are still in possession of the shares, and this during the 4 statutory years;
- A document for the year of the sale of shares if the investor sells his/her shares during the first 48 months.
You can then directly claim your right to a tax deduction in your tax declaration for the fiscal year of your investment by mentioning the amount of eligible investments made.
What does a "risk of partial or total loss of capital" mean?
In the case where the company that you invested in goes bankrupt, you can lose some or all of your investment. You will, however, never lose more than the original amount invested.
What does "liquidity risk" mean?
You may face liquidity problems (unable to sell your shares) if you wish to sell them before the recommended investment period (minimum 5 years) to which will be added the loss of your tax advantage, the tax shelter. Do not hesitate to contact us directly to inquire about the possible exit scenarios for a particular company.
An investment in a SME or a micro-enterprise also entails risks related to the market and the company itself.
The possible exit scenarios for any given company will depend on the results and the performance of the company. After 5 years, several different exit scenarios are possible:
- buyout by management
- purchase of part of the shares by historical shareholders
- purchase by another player in the eco-system
- investment by an investment fund
- initial public offering (IPO)
The possible exit scenarios are discussed and decided on during General Meeting together with the founders and the investors.
An online voting space on LITA.co allows you to participate at the General Meetings, even remotely, and to have access to all the follow-up documents.
The most common methods used by financial analysts to determine the valuation of a company in fundraising are the following: the guideline public traded company method, comparative market transactions method and discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis.
However, company valuation is not an exact science. In the case of seed funding for young projects (with typically 2-4 years of existence), the DCF method may prove unreliable because it is based on a number of assumptions related to the provisional business plan. In this case, the most relevant method would be that of comparative market transactions. This method values a company by comparing it to a sample of other companies with comparable characteristics, such as the sector of the economic activity. In order to ensure greater reliability in calculating the valuation of companies presented on our platform, LITA.co's team of financial analysts also uses the comparative market transactions method.
The Shareholders' Agreement defines the rules for monitoring your investment (reporting, governance) as well as the rules governing the exit of your investment (sale of shares). It aims to organize the relations between the entrepreneur and investor and to protect both parties in the event of a possible conflict.
The agreement generally contains three main types of clauses: management clauses related to the governance and operation of the various management bodies within the company, the shareholding clauses governing the rights of each shareholder in relation to the composition of the capital, and the exit clauses that define the various possibilities for investors to exit the capital of the company. Nevertheless, the drafting of the agreement is flexible and ultimately depends on the negotiations between the entrepreneurs and the investors. The main clauses of the Shareholder's Agreement typically drafted by LITA.co are as follows:
- Lock-up: this clause commits investors to keep their shares for a minimum period of 4-5 years.
- Right of first refusal: this clause sets out that existing shareholders have the right to accept or refuse an offer by a shareholder selling their shares after the latter has solicited an offer for their shares from a third-party buyer.
- Tag along right in case of a substantial modification of the company's social activities: this clause is specific to LITA.co due to the social nature of the companies that it offers to its investors. It stipulates that, in the event that the social enterprise in which you have invested significantly alters the social nature of its activities, the founders have an obligation to repurchase your shares or have them purchased if you wish to sell them.
- Drag along: this clause sets out that in the event of an offer to acquire all the shares of the investors or of the company, which is accepted by a two-third (2/3) majority of the investors, each investor undertakes to sell all the shares that they hold to the transferee in order not to block the purchase.
- Exit : this clause stipulates that, as an investor, you have the right to resell your shares after 5 years.
- Anti-dilution: this clause protects the shareholder from a dilution of their shareholding if the start-up chooses to issue future equity, for example in the case of a second or third fundraising round.
- Pari passu: also known as the "equal treatment clause", the pari passu clause ensures that investors benefit from the same guarantees and advantages as potential future investors.
- Good leaver and bad leaver: these clauses provide for the repurchase of the shares of the directors of the company in certain circumstances (i.e. death, incapacity, gross negligence etc), at a price determined in advance.
- Composition of the Strategic Planning Committee and the Board of Directors: these clauses organize the good governance of the company and ensures, in a sustainable manner, effective and transparent decision-making and communication between the partners and the company's managers on strategic and operational matters.
- Key person insurance: this clause insures against the financial consequences that the company will suffer in the event of the death or disability of a person who is essential to the company.
In the case of an investment in bonds, LITA.co selects mature companies that have already reached a certain financial equilibrium or long-term real estate or renewable energy projects whose economic model is simple and who have a reliable income. This condition ensures that companies are in a position to be able to pay the interests on a bond investment.
A bond is a financial security issued directly by a company that seeks funds to finance its growth.
Unlike an investment in shares, an investment in bonds is treated as a debt security on the company. Investing in bonds thus makes it possible to receive fixed annual interest payments. These may be collected on the maturity date of the bond or annually. There are therefore two types of bond investments depending on the structure and repayment schedule chosen in advance:
- Bullet loan: a fixed interest is paid out annually and the principal amount of the bond is paid back on maturity.
- Fixed installment loan: the loan is paid back in installments of the same size consisting of a loan repayment portion and an interest payment. Thus, the amount of interest paid decreases each year in in function of the repayment of the principal.
Investors are informed about the repayment model foreseen for a specific project on our platform.
Investing in bonds in a social enterprise makes it possible to direct your savings towards solidarity-based investments and to contribute towards the development of a project of your choice in a transparent way and without a third-party intermediary.
However, an investment in bonds remains risky and there is a risk of losing all or part of your initial investment depending on the evolution of the company's financial health. Do not hesitate to contact us for more information on the different types of investments available on LITA.co.
Unlike a share, an obligation does not allow the investor to take part in the governance of the company issuing the securities and it does not confer voting rights. However, the company agrees to pay interest to its investors and to repay the invested capital, according to the schedule and type of repayment determined beforehand. The interest rate and the due date of the loan repayment are therefore decided by LITA.co and the entrepreneur. The interest rates on LITA.co are brutto interest rates, without tax included.
As an investor, you also have the right to obtain regular information on the financial evolution of the company.
The return on investment in bonds is between 2% and 7%. The return depends on the structuring of the bond and the repayment dates, but also on the maturity of the project and its sector of activity.
Since 2017, a witholding tax of 30% applies on the interest of bonds of Belgian companies or the Belgian State for Belgian tax residents irrespective of their nationality. The witholding tax does not apply to investments made by legal persons, irrespective of the nationality of the investor.
For non-Belgium tax residents, the tax that applies will depend on their tax residence. As long as the formalities are not fulfilled, a witholding tax of 30% will be applied.
If you sell your bonds at a higher price than the one you originally paid and therefore make a capital gain, you do not pay tax on the added value of your bonds. LITA.co does not charge a fee when you sell a bond.
The investor who grants a loan to one or more companies via a crowdfunding platform will benefit from a tax benefit in the form of an exemption from withholding tax on the first € 15.000 lent per year. The exemption is valid for 4 years.
At the end of the fundraising, in addition to your signed and downloadable subscription form, we provide you with an Individual Subscription Statement readily accessible in your personal LITA.co account.
In the event of the company's bankruptcy, you may lose some or all of your investment. You never lose more than the initial amount invested. In the case of an investment in bonds, the biggest risk is that of default, which means that the company is no longer able to meet its commitments to pay interest and the principal on the bond when it is due.
An investment in an SME or VSE also entails inherent risks related to the market and the company itself
Cooperative shares are issued by cooperatives of the SCRL or SCRI type. The relationship between the investor and the issuer of the shares and the exit mechanisms are governed by the cooperative's articles of association and internal regulations (ROI).
It should always be kept in mind that an investment in shares remains risky and that there is a possibility of losing all or part of the initial investment. The return on investment will depend on the economic and financial health of the cooperative after 5 years. There are also liquidity risks linked to the possibility of selling the shares. LITA.co works with entrepreneurs and investors to ensure the best chances of a positive exit.
An investment in a cooperative share is an opportunity to experience an entrepreneurial adventure and allows you to invest transparently and without intermediaries in the company of your choice.
Finally, it is important to note that by investing in shares in an SME or micro-enterprise, you can benefit from a tax reduction of up to 30% or 45% on income. For more information on tax benefits, visit our page on the Tax Shelter.
Ownership of cooperative shares allows for participation at the General Assembly, which is the supreme governing body of a cooperative. However, several categories of cooperative shares may exist. These categories may entail different voting rights, accessibility to the board of directors or not, different entry and exit conditions, different dividend or rebate conditions, and so on.
We recommend that you read the articles of association and the internal rules (ROI) of the cooperative to find out what rights are linked to a subscription of shares of any given cooperative.
The return on investment varies according to the evolution of the cooperative.
The return is envisaged after a minimum period of 5 years. However, it depends on the results of the cooperative and the decisions of its management bodies related to the best interests of the cooperative. At this stage of development, if there is a positive net result, profits may be reinvested in the development and social purpose of the cooperative. It may be necessary to wait until the cooperative reaches a certain level of maturity before it has the capacity to distribute dividends. As a cooperator you will be represented at the General Assembly which negotiates the dividends paid to its investors.
Possible exit scenarios are the purchase of shares by the cooperative or between cooperators. Exit solutions are considered in the articles of association.
At the end of the fundraising, in addition to your signed and downloadable subscription form, we provide you with an Individual Subscription Statement readily accessible in your personal LITA.co account.
What does "risk of partial or total capital loss" mean?
In case of bankruptcy of the company, you can lose some or all of your investment. You never lose more than the original amount invested.
What does "liquidity risk" mean?
You may face liquidity problems (failing to sell your securities) and a loss of your tax benefit if you wish to sell them before the recommended investment horizon (minimum 5 years). Do not hesitate to contact us directly for any questions concerning exit possibilities for a particular company.
An investment in an SME or VSE also entails inherent risks related to the market and the company itself.
Registration is completely free of charge. Investments are open to everyone and the LITA.co team is at your disposal to support you along the way.
Registration on LITA.co can be done in several steps. You can simply register with an e-mail address to discover the projects at your own pace. Note, however, that a completed and validated profile gives you access to more information on the platform (detailed analysis of the social impact of the company and the investment product etc.).
To access company data and to be able to invest, in accordance with the regulations defined by the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA), you must first complete your investor profile. The main information to be provided is as follows:
1. Your identity
2. Your investment preferences and interests
3. Your professional situation and your (potential) experiences with investments
4. Your identity* and place of residence** by downloading the requested documents.
Please not that as of the moment your send your proof of address and identity, our payment partner will take between 24-48h hours to validate your profile.
* Accepted proof of identity documents:
- copy / photo in color of both sides of your identity card
- copy / photo in color of your passport
- copy / photo in color of your driving's license
**Accepted proof of address documents (dating less than 3 months):
- gas / electricity / phone bills
- proof of accommodation
- rental agreement or title deed
- correspondence from a state agency (mutuality, tax authority)
- home insurance
- proof of residence from your municipality
LITA.co undertakes to keep investor information confidential and not to use or disclose any information for purposes other than the proper performance of its mission. LITA.co is bound by professional secrecy.
However, LITA.co may disclose some of this information to administrative authorities or regulatory bodies upon their request. In this case, LITA.co will notify the investor as soon as possible of any potential request.
LITA.co does not have access to the payments transiting through the platform. For this we collaborate with a French payment partner that has the status of banking institution and that is approved by the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA), notably, MangoPay, a subsidiary of Leetchi. The amounts collected are thus transferred to a blocked account in France during the fundraising campaign and are only transferred to the beneficiary company at the end of the campaign.
LITA.co's mission is to democratize investments in the capital of a company. Therefore, the minimum investment ticket is usually € 100. However, the price may be higher depending on the company and on the price per share. For example, a minimum ticket could be € 140, corresponding to 2 shares at the price of €70 each.
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