Speaking at the Northern Enterprise Conference in Manchester, the group chief executive of a North West social investment business announced the launch of a new investment fund for early stage and growing social businesses across the region, and invited socially-driven groups to come forward and apply.
Bob Taylor, speaking on the main stage at the event, declared the opening of ‘Invest for Impact’, First Ark Social Investment’s new fund for organisations dedicated to creating long-lasting social impact.
The ‘Invest for Impact’ fund will further increase the impact of the region’s social economy, recently named as one of the most thriving in the UK. The £4m scheme, which is funded by the Growth Fund, an initiative of Access – the Foundation for Social Investment in conjunction with the Big Lottery Fund and Big Society Capital, offers a blend of grant and unsecured loan finance for charities and social enterprises, up to £150k.
First Ark will also provide pre-investment and post-investment support from a dedicated team, ensuring that each investment is shaped to meet the specific needs of each organisation and to help steer them through the application process.
Bob Taylor, group chief executive of First Ark, said:
“This is a milestone for the North West social economy. We are looking to work with organisations from across the entire region that already have an impact on communities and identify how social investment can help them become stronger, to grow and become more sustainable.
“Our hope is that Invest for Impact will help organisations make the North West a more inclusive place to be, with increased opportunities for everyone. Some of First Ark’s priorities include helping people tackle key issues that enable them to move on in their lives and to be able to seize opportunities to develop skills that allow them to move into long term sustainable employment, this fund can act as an enabler for those outcomes.
“I’d like to invite anyone keen on shaping better futures for their community to come forward and express their interest. I’m looking forward to seeing the impact that this brilliant new opportunity will deliver.”
Seb Elsworth, Chief Executive of Access said:
“Better access to small scale affordable finance is exactly what the social economy needs to be able to grow, and for social enterprises to increase their impact in communities. First Ark are ideally placed to provide this sort of investment in the North West complementing the broad range of support they already provide for the social sector.”
If you are a socially-driven organisation keen on receiving investment, head to www.firstarksocialinvestment.com to express your interest.
Notes to editor:
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First Ark is dedicated to creating success that changes people’s lives. Through the practice of successful and responsible business, First Ark provide support for positive initiatives across the North West.
First Ark work to regenerate and develop neighbourhoods, provide facilities management services to its customers and create life changing opportunities that inspire people and business to generate growth in the communities in which it works.
Access – The Foundation for Social Investment exists to bridge the gap between charities and social enterprises and social investors. Access does this through two main programmes: the Growth Fund which blends grant from Big Lottery Fund and loan from Big Society Capital and is focused on enabling the provision of the simple and affordable investment products that charities and social enterprises tell us they need; and the capacity building programme, which provides charities and social enterprises with the support they need to get ready to take on investment.
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Big Lottery Fund
- The Big Lottery Fund is the largest funder of community activity in the UK. We put people in the lead to improve their lives and communities, often through small, local projects.
- We are responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. Every year we invest over £650 million and award around 12,000 grants across the UK for health, education, environment and charitable purposes.
- Since June 2004 we have awarded over £8 billion to projects that change the lives of millions of people.
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Big Society Capital
Big Society Capital is a financial institution with a social mission, set up to build the social investment market in the UK, so that charities and social enterprises can access appropriate repayable finance to enable them to grow, become more sustainable and increase their impact on society. It is doing this by building a diverse social investment market: encouraging investors to lend or invest money to achieve a social as well as a financial return. Since it was set up as an independent organisation in 2012, Big Society Capital has invested over £270 million in specialist organisations who lend to charities and social enterprises.