Cause UK is delighted to have written the award nomination for Key Fund client, Birdcage, which has been shortlisted for the UK Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards.
Birdcage is a charity shop on Skipton High Street, a retail enterprise set up by the Leeds charity for domestic abuse, Behind Closed Doors.
The shop launched after a start-up loan package of £25k in 2010 from Cause UK client, Key Fund – the UK’s largest regional Community Development Finance Institution working in the North of England.
Birdcage has turned the notion of a charity shop on its head. It has been credited for turning the previously quiet part of the High Street into a ‘must-go destination’, attracting other retailers.
The experiential shop involves volunteers from the community who share their creative crafts and skills, safeguarding traditional skills and local talent. All goods are up-cycled, recycled or mended.
Garry Brown, Investment Officer for Key Fund, said: “Not only does Birdcage help generate revenue for an important charity, it’s a beacon of innovation and creativity that shows how social enterprise can play a vital role in a community. We hope their story inspires others to come forward to speak to the Key Fund about how we can help them set up their own social enterprise.”
This is the first time the Community Development Finance Association and Citi Foundation is bringing the global Awards to the UK to celebrate the innovative and important work of community finance.
Itself a social enterprise, Key Fund is a market leader recognising the nature and environment within which social businesses operate. To date, it has invested over £29m and supported over 2,000 organisations across the North.
Mr Brown added: “By providing tailored investments and support, our mission is to break down the barriers to accessing finance, enabling organisations to increase their community, economic and environmental impact, and Birdcage is a brilliant example of this.”
Louise Tyne, Organisation Director for Birdcage, said: “The shop was a reaction to the economic climate our charity, Behind Closed Doors, was facing. Funding streams were drying up but the needs of the victims of domestic abuse continued. We decided to diversify our income streams by creating a trading arm so it wasn’t dependent on one source of funding.”
She said: “What’s made Birdcage such a success is it’s more of a brand than a traditional charity shop. We chose Skipton despite our charity being based in Leeds, because we recognised location was key to success. It’s become a centre for the local community as well as a shop for tourists”
Birdcage received a further £20k in 2013 from Key Fund to develop and expand the business moving forward and to support the process of replicating the Birdcage concept.
Louise said: “Birdcage would not exist if it wasn’t for Key Fund support offering unsecured development loans to a charity with no track record in retail. They ensured we not only had access to money, but the right support, expertise and business plans to enable a small organisation to make the leap to trading.”
The awards ceremony will take place on 12th February in Bristol. A prize fund of £5,000 will be presented to the winner.