A pilot scheme administered by local employer Legal & General and the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), which could lead to millions of pounds being invested in charities and social enterprises is to be launched in Brighton on 24th September by the Minister for Social Enterprise Jo Swinson.
Under the pilot, which will be rolled out nationwide if successful, charities and other social enterprises in the Brighton & Hove area will be offered interest free loans, a personal mentor and expert business advice to boost their growth.
The pilot is being funded by £65,000 from the Cabinet Office’s Innovation in Giving Fund managed by NESTA and £50,000 from Legal & General. The project will be overseen by a social investment committee which includes Tony Mernagh from the city’s Economic Partnership, the editor of the Argus Michael Beard and chaired by the Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex Peter Field.
Under the Social Enterprise Assist [SE Assist] scheme fledgling social enterprises will be offered interest free loans of up to £10,000 as well as mentoring from Legal & General staff and up to £5,000 worth of expert consultancy.
The programme will encourage other local companies, both large-scale corporates and smaller SMEs, to invest time and additional money to support this important sector of the economy.
John Low, Chief Executive of Charities Aid Foundation, said: “Social enterprises have the power to tackle many intractable problems in our communities, but often flounder because commercial lenders regard them as too risky to support.
“There is still a chronic lack of funding for fledgling social enterprises which are looking to expand. We need lenders to step in and back these dynamic social enterprises with hard cash and business advice so they have the support they need to succeed. These entrepreneurial organisations can make a massive difference, supporting some of the most vulnerable people in society.
“Without this sort of backing the Government’s vision of a greater role for community groups, social enterprises and charities in delivering local services will remain aspirational.
“We need others in financial services to follow the great lead shown by Legal & General in providing start up capital and vital business advice which can get great projects off the ground.”
For more information go to the website www.se-assist.co.uk
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