One of the UK’s leading investors in local business and new start-ups has £3m in grant and loan left to invest in the next two months across Yorkshire and the Humber, having already delivered over £2m in the area this year.
Key Fund is the most prolific community development investor in the country. It only invests in enterprises or start-ups that deliver positive social impact and have been turned down by mainstream banks.
Matt Smith, Key Fund’s Deputy CEO, said: “We have the finance available now if you have the business ideas. It doesn’t matter what industry sector you’re working in, or whether you’re established and looking to expand or are a start-up, Key Fund supports all sizes and types of enterprises.”
Key Fund is offering the limited time offer of a loan and grant blend to help finance new business ideas or existing business growth.
Key Fund was launched in Sheffield 1999 to stimulate local economies in Yorkshire and the Humber after the decline of the coal, steel and other major industries. Its social mission has remained the same – to remove the bureaucratic hurdles and offer finance to organisations in the areas of greatest need.
The smallest funding package is £3,500 and the largest so far has been £300,000. Key Fund has invested over £39m in almost a thousand businesses which stimulate local economies and place equal importance on social impact as well as profit.
Matt said: “These kinds of enterprises can look risky on paper, with no equity or security. We find ways to surmount that risk with our highly skilled investment team using robust procedures.”
The default rate among those Key Fund invests in was only 4.09 per cent last year (despite 75% of investment being unsecured lending) – a rate vastly below the double figures experienced by some commercial lenders.
Matt added: “This is a time limited offer, so anyone living in the region who has an idea, or is involved in a group, charity, or community with an enterprising idea should come and talk to us.”
“Many people who want to start their own community or social enterprise, or expand and grow an existing one, aren’t aware that there is an alternative to mainstream investors,” he said. “With us, you don’t need assets or even necessarily experience, you just need a fantastic business idea that benefits society.”
Key Fund work with applicants and give hands-on support to give organisations the best possible chance to become sustainable.
The organisation believes community and social enterprises not only reignite local economies, but are best placed to tackle social problems, meeting the demands of the communities they are rooted in, from community-owned pubs, social care services, high-tech renewable energy solutions and recycling schemes.
Matt added: “We believe in people, we invest in people.”
Notes for editors
Key Fund – Background
South Yorkshire was facing a grim future with the downturn in the steel and coal industries and the scourge of long-term unemployment was a black cloud over its future. In 1999 the Key Fund was born by a group of entrepreneurs from Locality (formerly the DTA, South Yorkshire Community Foundation) and the Sheffield Community Enterprise Development Unit.
They pooled their experience and skills from working in the Third Sector with a philanthropic impulse to meet the glaring needs of budding social enterprises and community organisations.
In 2002, the Key Fund escaped a culture dependent on grants and made its first loan.
Their objective remains the same as it did when it began: to remove the barriers within society and the financial markets that help propagate poverty and disadvantage.
Key Fund – Today
Today, the Key Fund is a market leader in innovation recognising the nature and environment within which social businesses operate, namely; disadvantage and market failure.
Based in Sheffield, Key Fund is the UK’s biggest regional investor in the social economy that covers the North of England.
Key Fund is itself a social economy success story. As a social enterprise, all of the returns received to the Key Fund are reinvested back into the sector.