First Access funding reaches frontline

The first funding from Access, the government-backed foundation for social investment, has reached the frontline.

Access was launched in March 2015 and aims to help smaller social enterprises and charities obtain social investment. It is a wholesaler rather than a direct funder of organisations.

Access became operational in May 2015 and since then it has been setting up programmes and allocating funding to intermediaries to distribute. In October 2016, Access passed on £5.5m from its £45m Growth Fund to Key Fund’s Northern Impact Fund.

This week, the first investment from Key Fund’s Northern Impact Fund was confirmed as £20,000 for IntraQuest, a training and therapy community interest company based in Greater Manchester.

As a small business it’s very easy to go under just because people aren’t paying as quickly as needed

The support is made up of a loan of £16,600 and a grant of £3,400 to help working capital costs and grow turnover. The general terms for the Northern Impact Fund are 12.5% APR up to five years.

The IntraQuest story

IntraQuest was established in January 2014 by Jennifer Westwood, a former key worker for people struggling with addiction and children’s therapist, and Karen Keates, an ex-addict and one of Westwood’s former clients who now has a counselling degree and a post-graduate qualification in cognitive behaviour therapy.

Together with a small team of staff they offer training to professionals, such as social workers and police, along with affordable therapy to children and adults. Although they believed they had a sound business model, they had been struggling with cashflow. The Key Fund support will help with IntraQuest’s working capital and support the organisation to grow.

Westwood said: “We’ve got the business model nailed and the Key Fund has really helped us analyse what’s working and what’s not. It’s been a lifesaver really. As a small business it’s very easy to go under just because people aren’t paying as quickly as needed. It helped us bridge that gap and stabilise us as a company.”

IntraQuest’s ambition is to expand and become a one-stop shop for holistic therapy with medical consultants and specialists.

Clive Douthwaite, Key Fund investment officer for the north west, explained that Key Fund believed IntraQuest was offering a valuable service in a deprived area. The organisation needed to become sustainable but was unable to access mainstream loans.

He said: “At Key Fund, our expertise is in investing and supporting organisations that seek to balance business sustainability and positive social impact. The IntraQuest team is committed to social impact in their local community and Karen’s background – with very real experience – make her a powerful role model to counsel young adults who might be going down that dark avenue.”

He added that if the organisation became sustainable it could move into other areas of Greater Manchester, where demand for such services was high.

Seb Elsworth, CEO of Access, said: “We are delighted with how Key Fund have hit the ground running in delivery the Northern Impact Fund. The blended investment into IntraQuest is a great example of what the Growth Fund is all about and we look forward to seeing the impact that Jennifer, Karen and colleagues will continue to deliver in Greater Manchester.”

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