Big Issue Invest boost social enterprises with £2.7 million

£2.7 million was invested in 40 social enterprises by Big Issue Invest (BII) in the last six months, with over half of investee organisations able to access social investment for the first time.

According to a BII report, investments are supporting 53,000 beneficiaries and have helped create 1,445 jobs. In addition, 50% of investee organisations are run by women.

The investments were delivered through BII’s Impact Loans England programme, which has now committed more than £3 million of the £5 million fund since it launched earlier this year. The programme is set to run for the next three years.

The lending scheme aims to give social enterprises access to loan funding between £20,000 and £150,000. BII’s head of lending Daniel Wilson-Dodd said: “A lot of great organisations struggle to access small to medium-sized loans – we set out to support those social enterprises.”

The programme is funded by Access, The Social Investment Foundation, with finance provided by its partners Big Lottery Fund and Big Society Capital. Social enterprises or charities based in England can apply, provided they can demonstrate a viable business model and an ability to repay finance.

Loans are unsecured and aim to assist organisations in a variety of ways, including buying equipment, contract fulfilment, business development and hiring new talent.

Investee organisations have come from a wide range of sectors, from mental health social enterprise Mentis Tree in Suffolk to the conservation charity Barn Owl Centre (pictured above) and a Birmingham based pay-as-you-go car club.

Geographical locations are varied too, though 66% of organisations work in the 20% most deprived UK wards.

One such is the charity Wirral Radio, a community radio station creating opportunities for local unemployed people and teenagers struggling in school through training in radio and broadcasting. The charity received £60,000 from BII to boost their community work.

Wirral is included in the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, which ranks as the fourth most deprived local authority in the country.

BII has helped finance an expansion in the work of Green Revolutions, a community interest company and pay-as-you-go car use company, part of the national Co-wheels network.

With a current membership of 100 sharing a fleet of 12 low-emission cars, Green Revolutions hope to double their number of cars and expand the club to more than 300 members in the next two years. 

Photo credit: Wirral Radio