Social enterprises based in the London borough of Croydon have been invited to apply for a support package, which includes an interest free loan, from a government-backed scheme launched last week.
After a successful pilot in Brighton and Hove in 2013, the Social Enterprise Assist (SE-Assist) scheme is seeking to support initiatives attempting to drive regeneration in Croydon.
Successful applicants will be provided with a loan of between £10,000 and £30,000, mentoring from a Legal & General employee and support from a range of experts.
Together, Legal & General – a local employer based near Croydon – the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) and the Coast2Capital Local Enterprise Partnership have provided total funding of £150,000.
The scheme will also be rolled out again in Sussex. The social enterprises that benefited from the pilot scheme last year range from an ethical supermarket and a creative writing group to an IT consultancy.
“The employees based in our Hove office who were involved with the scheme last year, understand just how fantastic it is when the vision of a local business becomes a reality, with their help and our financial support”, said Graham Precey, head of corporate responsibility at Legal & General.
“This year employees in our office in Kingswood will join those in Hove to provide support.”
Amy Clarke, head of advisory at CAF, added, “We’re thrilled to be rolling out the scheme today in Sussex and Croydon to support local social businesses. Social enterprises can make a huge difference to people in the community.
“There is a great spirit of innovation visible at the moment, but forward-thinking entrepreneurs are struggling to find the funding and the support they need to enable them to get their ideas off the ground.”
Earlier this month, Croydon council revealed plans to invest £10m into a socially-orientated property fund that will buy homes to rent to the borough’s homeless community.
Over the year, the fund – thought to be the first of its kind – aims to reach at least £45m and eventually buy up to 220 properties across London.
The closing date for applications to the SE-Assist scheme is April 10. To apply, businesses must go to SE-Assist website at www.se-assist.co.uk