The story is set to feature this week on BBC Look North (with Social Enterprise, Doncaster Refurnish – pictured), BBC Sheffield Radio, Sheffield Live TV and radio, the Yorkshire Post, Sheffield Telegraph and across Yorkshire and Humber!
It’s a fantastic opportunity for anyone looking for support for a new business idea – as long as it’s a business with heart and soul. Read the full release below…
£5m for Yorkshire and Humber Businesses with Heart
Key Fund – the country’s most prolific investor in community and social enterprises – aims to invest £1m every month for the next five months across Yorkshire and the Humber.
Garry Brown, Head of Investment at Key Fund, said: “We’re asking anyone living in Yorkshire and the Humber who has an idea, or is involved in a group, organisation, enterprise, or community with an enterprising idea, to talk to us.”
Key Fund is offering a loan and grant blend to help finance new business ideas or existing business growth. Grants will be at the discretion of the Key Fund, but typically make up 10 percent of the loan taken.
Garry said: “Key Fund is committed to supporting the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector. We know how hard it can be to balance the costs of delivering positive impacts in disadvantaged areas with the tight financial realities of balancing the books, which is why we are offering grants alongside our loans.”
“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. With us, you don’t need assets or even necessarily experience, you just need a fantastic business idea that benefits society.”
All Key Fund clients have been turned down by mainstream investors because they don’t fit their lending criteria. The proven success of Key Fund is a result of relationship based lending, free from credit scores or blanket rules. They work with applicants and give hands-on support and advice to help give their business the best possible chance to become sustainable.
Garry said: “We understand the unique aspects of the North and the challenges that Yorkshire communities face in the current economic climate; almost 80% of all investments last year were in the most deprived 20% areas in England.”
Key Fund has directly invested over £35m since inception in 1999, with an enviable track record in business success and an average loss rate of only 4.4% – despite its investments being higher risk on paper.
Garry said: “Social enterprises – which basically means a business whose purpose is to benefit society – struggle to gain the confidence of mainstream investors. As the sector grows there is increasing interest and plenty of passion, but start-ups and young businesses need support, guidance and investment in order to flourish. That’s where we come in.”
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.
Garry added: “The sector is uniquely placed to address some of the greatest challenges we face, putting people at the centre and not just focussing on business as usual. We’ve enabled thousands of people and organisations to help our communities to take control of their own future, but we want to help more.
“As well as access to finance, we have a wealth of expertise and understanding around the sensitivities of setting up these kinds of businesses – big or small.”
Based in Sheffield, Key Fund is itself a social enterprise success story. It was established to counteract the scourge of long-term unemployment after the collapse of the steel and coal industries in South Yorkshire. Today it is a market leader in innovation, helping to remove the barriers to finance that help propagate poverty and disadvantage.
Key Fund’s mission is to create and sustain jobs, invest in disadvantaged areas, and support and sustain social enterprises. It helps to shape new kinds of industry, from delivering public sector services to new IT and digital industry – all of which have social impact at their heart.