New social investment fund to tackle inequality

A new fund could offer flexible and patient capital for early-stage social businesses to expand, ringfencing a minimum of 50% of funding for leaders from underrepresented backgrounds.

Big Issue Invest, UnLtd and Shift have come together to launch the Growth Impact Fund, to level the social investment playing field. The fund is backed with funding from supporters including Bank of America and Access Foundation.

Big Issue Invest, UnLtd and design agency Shift developed the fund to tackle the structural barriers of inequality within social investment. This follows a report that despite £600m of public investment since 2010, the social investment market remained unchanged.

The Growth Impact Fund has been developed with social entrepreneurs of diverse genders, ethnicities, ages, and those with disabilities, to help address inequalities.

The Fund will offer between £50k – £1.5 million to its investees. It will:

Provide investees with the option of patient, flexible capital, or alternative options including 70% of funding invested through equity and quasi-equity products.

Provide grant funded wrap-around support across the investment process (from early-stage enterprises to established organisations, and pre-investment to post investment)

Commit to ensuring the team, management, and governance of the fund are representative of the entrepreneurs the fund looks to support.

Every investee on the portfolio will have access to grants and non-financial help to grow their social business and social impact. Investees can use the support for needs such as caring responsibilities, accessibility support, consultancy, or professional development.

One key eligibility criterion is that over 75% of the board and 50% of the management team of each social enterprise should identify as at least one of the inclusion groups: women, disabled people; Black, Asian, minoritised ethnicity, Gypsy, Roma, or Traveller; LGBTQIA+; have direct lived experience of the social issues the social business is focused on; have experienced socio-economic disadvantage. Organisations that don’t meet these criteria will be eligible if they can show commitment to improving their diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Find out more and register interest at Queries welcome from social investment organisations.

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