The North of England’s longest-standing specialist investor in community and social enterprises, Key Fund, has made its goal to invest in 100 enterprises per year, for the next three years.
The £10M new funds were announced at its launch event today (28 Oct).
These include a £5.5M Northern Impact Fund, supported by Access – the Foundation for Social Investment, with funding from Big Society Capital and the Big Lottery Fund, which offers blended loan and grant investments up to £150,000. Additionally, Key Fund have also secured £4.5m of new finance direct from Big Society Capital, to support general investment activity.
Founded in 1999, the Key Fund has supported thousands of enterprises, which create positive social impact in local communities across the North and Midlands. Enterprises can operate across any sector, from supporting new artists to reducing homelessness, to recycling projects and community-run pubs, swimming pools and libraries.
Key Fund launched the new funds at its new offices in Sheffield, alongside revealing a brand re-vamp. It also shared its Social Impact Report 2015/16.
The last year saw Key Fund invest a total of £10m in 201 enterprises, which received funds ranging from £5k to £300k. The investments created 37 new businesses, created 293 jobs and safeguarded 188 jobs.
Matt Smith, CEO of Key Fund, said: “Our Social Impact Report demonstrates what a significant impact the sector has. There are inspiring businesses and individuals, who are not only generating jobs in some of the most disadvantaged communities, but are also tackling deep-rooted social issues. We’re now looking for 300 more community and social enterprises to come forward over the next three years, whether they are start-ups or existing enterprises looking to expand, diversify or grow.”
We’re now looking for 300 more community and social enterprises to come forward over the next three years.
One of the enterprises who attended the Key Fund launch event was East Street Arts, who received a £110,000 loan to renovate a building in Leeds and create a residential Art Hostel and creative hub.
Nicola Greenan, External Relations Director for the Art Hostel, said: “Even though it’s a strong business model because it’s completely new and we’re a charity, it was difficult to get high street lending, especially in the current economic climate. Without Key Fund’s support, the project wouldn’t have happened.”
Catering at the launch event was provided by another Key Fund client, Eudaimonia who operates Super Kitchen and provides outside and event catering. It delivers affordable, healthy ‘social’ eating to help address social isolation and improve community health. Those who can’t afford to pay, can volunteer their services in return for food.
Key Fund invested £90,000 loan to support the purchase a vehicle and ancillary equipment.
Steve Ralf, Chairman of Eudaimonia, said:
“Without the money and support from the Key Fund we could not have expanded the Super Kitchen model. Our bank wouldn’t support us but the Key Fund were very keen to help. They came over, went through the figures, helped with the application forms and I was very surprised how quickly it happened, it really worked well. We now have five vehicles on the road supporting our work and without the Key Fund we wouldn’t be here today, you can’t say more than that.”
Key Fund’s mission is to invest in enterprise that makes a real difference to local communities. All its investments are made to enterprises turned down by mainstream finance providers, particularly those in areas of disadvantage with a high social impact.
Matt Smith added: “We’re incredibly proud of our work, and the impact that our investees have on the lives of people in need. We know just how difficult it is to run an enterprise that attempts to balance commercial and financial targets, as just like our clients, we are a Social Enterprise too. Our passion for this work and commitment to our mission has never been stronger.”
To find out more or apply for the Northern Impact Fund, visit: www.thekeyfund.co.uk
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