Short n Sweet: Australia wants its own Big Society Capital

Your roundup of news from the impact economy around the world: Australia’s social investment market reviewed, Social Enterprise Academy arrives in Egypt, and UnLtd backs 12 new ventures. Plus, Nick Hurd joins Access foundation board.

Australia looks to Big Society Capital model to help break impact investing deadlock

An expert panel has provided its first set of recommendations on developing a “mature and sustainable” social investment market in Australia.

The government-appointed Social Impact Investing Taskforce, formed last year, published its interim report on 31 January.

Concluding that the potential is “untapped” – and that market for large-scale impact investing in particular is stuck in “a cycle of stasis” – the report recommends three immediate actions: develop evidence and data on social impact; establish principles “to ensure future initiatives are rigorously designed and set up for success”, and create a new information portal to support the sector to build capacity and connections.

The interim report has not been endorsed by the government. A final report will be presented by mid-2020, and is expected to recommend support for early-stage social entrepreneurs; support to increase outcomes-based contracting; and establishment of an impact investing wholesaler, similar to the UK’s Big Society Capital. 

CEO of the independent body Impact Investing Australia, Sally McCutchan – who is also a member of the Social Impact Investing Taskforce expert panel, said in a statement that a wholesaler, designed “as a catalytic, independent institution, with impact at its core [would] unlock capital and capacity to tackle social issues at scale.”

New support for Egypt’s entrepreneurs as Social Enterprise Academy arrives in North Africa

The first Social Enterprise Academy hub in the Middle East and North Africa opened last week in Cairo, Egypt.

The Social Enterprise Academy started in Scotland in 2004 and began replicating internationally in 2016 through a social franchise model. It now has a network of 14 hubs across Europe, Africa, Asia, North America and Australia, and has supported over 18,000 people to create sustainable businesses and have more social impact.

SEA Egypt, operated by eSeven for Educational Services LLC, will provide accredited learning and development support for people and organisations working for social change across the country. Managing director, Aisha Khairat, said that research by eSeven had suggested a “need for an educational arm to support the growing [social] entrepreneurship ecosystem” in the country, and the academy’s launch had been “long anticipated”.

Head of international at the Social Enterprise Academy, Nazia Ali, added: “We’re thrilled to be partnering with eSeven, a dynamic and insightful organisation that is working hard to serve Egyptian change makers, to bring the Social Enterprise Academy to Egypt. If we are to meet the complex social and environmental challenges facing the world today, investment in the people leading change is essential.”


UnLtd to scale up 12 ventures improving older people’s lives

A dozen social ventures have been selected for an accelerator for high-impact, scaleable social businesses focused on improving the quality of life of people over 50.

Thrive: Solutions for an Ageing Society, run by UnLtd, is running for the second time. This year’s ventures are working on ideas such as a co-operative platform for the care industry, a home share system for old and young, a neighbourhood help service and game-led dementia support.

The programme provides six months of intensive personalised support and an opportunity to access up to £50,000 of investment.

In the UK, average life expectancy at birth is now 80 years, but average healthy life expectancy – the amount of years lived in a healthy and active state – is only 63.

UnLtd’s director of ventures, David Bartram, said the programme was designed to support the challenges that social ventures face and “allow them to grow and navigate a very complex market”. 

He added; “Our research has shown that social entrepreneurs play a key role in improving quality of life for people in later life, and through our accelerator we will enable this transformative impact.”

Find the full list of selected ventures here.


Nick Hurd joins Access Foundation; plus career moves at Pilotlight, Dot Dot Dot and Year Here

Nick Hurd, the former civil society minister, is to become chair of Access - the Foundation for Social Investment from April.

Hurd entered parliament in 2005. In his civil society role from 2010 to 2014, he oversaw the creation of Access’s sister organisation Big Society Capital, programmes to support social impact bonds, and other initiatives such as the Investment and Contract Readiness funds. He was also Minister for Climate Change and Industry, Minister for Policing, and Minister for London. He stood down as MP ahead of the December 2019 election.

Hurd tweeted yesterday: “Our charities & social enterprises are some of the most valuable organisations in the country. The system for funding them is inefficient. Delighted to join a great team at who are working with partners to find a better way.”

In other appointments and departure news:

  • Ed Mayo, secretary general of Co-operatives UK, is to join Pilotlight as its new CEO. He replaces Gillian Murray, who is stepping down after 14 years with the charity.
  • Josh Babarinde, founder of social enterprise Cracked It, is to join the board of property guardian company Dot Dot Dot, along with three other new board directors, Lisa Taylor, Alistair Stuart and Tony Curzon Price.
  • Jack Graham is to step down this summer as CEO of the fellowship programme he founded, YearHere


Social enterprise opportunities this month: Asia, Europe, UK

  • Global South: Co-Impact is offering up to five grants (US$10-25m over 5 years) for systems change initiatives in health, education, and economic opportunity. Deadline 31 March.
  • Asia: The Asia Pacific Social Innovation Partnership Award has categories on environment, inclusive business and social prosperity. Applications close 3 March.
  • Europe: The new European Social Catalyst Fund will provide at least six “planning grants” of up to €100,000 along with capacity building support, to help those working on reducing or overcoming social challenges. Applications close 15 April.​
  • UK: The Cambridge Social Innovation Prize (£10,000 to spend on individual professional development as CEOs and social sector leaders) is open for applications until 9 March.
  • UK: NatWest Social & Community Capital’s 20th anniversary grants (£20k each) are available to seven social enterprises, charities and community businesses around the UK. Deadline 21 February.
  • UK: Acumen is launching its first UK Fellows Programme, for individuals committed to ending poverty and injustice in their community. Applications open 28 February.
  • Scotland: Applications for Social Investment Scotland’s Growth & Replication Challenge (loan investment of £100,000 to £1.6 million, and up to £10,000 in grant funding for professional support) close midnight tonight. SIS is also offering opportunities to sell and exhibit at Edinburgh Food Festival.
  • England: Expressions of interest are open for Access’ Enterprise Development Programme (up to £30,000 grant plus training), for organisations working on homelessness, mental health and inequality.
  • London: School for Social Entrepreneurs is recruiting for its next Fellowship Programme (20 days over nine months). Starts 1 May.