BIG Potential: Investment readiness explored, a foreword

CEO of Social Investment Business Jonathan Jenkins explains why investment readiness funding has helped fill a crucial gap in the social investment market in the UK and introduces the BIG Potential: Investment readiness explored collection.

When we won the contract from the Cabinet Office to manage the Investment and Contract Readiness Fund back in May 2012, I knew that this was the type of funding and support that had been missing in the sector.

We invested a lot of resource into modelling that fund and although I was confident it was going to be a success, I never could have predicted that grants totalling £4.5m would lead to 51 charities and social enterprises winning deals worth £117 million.

The fund over-achieved and its success shows how, with specialist business support, charities and social enterprises can scale up rapidly and create much greater impact in their communities.

There was a clear need for this type of funding and since that fund closed we have seen a range of new investment readiness funds come into the market. We now manage BIG Potential Breakthrough and BIG Potential Advanced – two £10m BIG Lottery Fund investment readiness funds, the Cabinet Office’s Impact Readiness Fund and the Department for Education’s Childcare Investment Readiness Fund.

We have a wealth of inspiring impact stories that have all started with an organisation being awarded an investment readiness grant, which has then directly led to them raising investment or winning a contract to deliver a much needed service to their community. We will be sharing these with you over the next few months. Stories like…

  • The £105,000 grant that helped The Big Life Group win contracts worth £5 million over five years to run six nursery schools for around 450 children in deprived areas of Greater Manchester, or stories like the…
  • £108,650 grant that helped Empower Community secure a £10.1 million loan from a UK institutional pension investor, which will allow it to provide free daytime solar energy to social housing tenants in more than 2300 homes in Sunderland, or stories like the…
  • £91,600 grant that has helped Steps to Work successfully compete against commercial rivals to land a contract from Walsall Council to fill approximately 250 temporary jobs each week, worth about £27 million over three year.

There are certain types of charities and social enterprises out there that have the potential to successfully take on investment to grow and scale up their impact but find their options reduced due to a lack of expertise in a certain areas. If you are one those organisations, I hope you find this collection of some inspiration.


Jonathan Jenkins, Social Investment Business


Photo credit: vmax2010