In the UK, a new organisation Access: The Foundation for Social Investment has been established to help early stage charities and social enterprises access social investment, with a ‘Growth Fund’ of over £100m for investing in these organisations.
Access’ mission is to fill existing gaps in the UK social investment market that prevent many voluntary organisations, not-for-profit and social enterprises from accessing finance to help them become more sustainable.
To address this gap, grant funding – often alongside repayable finance – can enable a wider range of organisations to access the investment they need. Sometimes organisations seeking funding also have gaps in the skills needed to attract and take on investment. Targeted business support can address these gaps and connect organisations with investors.
Developed as a collaboration between Access, Big Lottery Fund, and Big Society Capital, the Growth Fund is focused on enabling the provision of the simple and affordable investment products that not-for-profits and social enterprises are in need of.
The Growth Fund will provide wholesale finance. Charities and social enterprises will access the Growth Fund through existing and new social lenders (intermediaries). These lenders will be able to apply to Access for a mix of grant and loan funding from the Fund and they will then blend this money to provide simple investments (particularly in the form of either a loan or a mix of loan and grant funding) to charities and social enterprises.
Seb Elsworth, incoming Chief Executive of Access said: “We’ve got a big and exciting task ahead of us to make social investment more accessible for charities and social enterprises. I’m thrilled to be leading Access in this challenge. I hope that we will be seen as a real partner to the sector as we develop our work and share what we are learning about how mixing loans and grants can have the most impact.”
Earlier this month in Australia, NAB launched Australia’s first Impact Investment Readiness Fund in partnership with Impact Investing Australia. The fund has been seeded with an initial $1 million for providing mission-driven organisations with targeted advice and support to help them secure investment for scaling up their social or environmental impact.