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25/09/2012 by Alan Cole in the UK

World's first social investment bank announces multi-million investments as social enterprise sector grows

Britain’s charity investment bank has announced its first spending commitments for the social enterprise sector to the tune of £37 million, as fresh evidence emerges of a growing interest in social capital investing.

Indeed, the news comes as the social investment market looks set to boom with increasing interest from investors and social organisations, according to research from The Boston Consulting Group.

With backing from government, non-profit and private sector institutions, the report reveals demand for social investment loans – investments in social organisations that are repaid based on revenues - could grow to £1 billion by 2016.

The investment bank Big Society Capital (BSC) was launched in early 2012 by the UK government with a commitment to support charities and community organisations via new investment opportunities...

The bank’s mission involves generating loans for charities and social enterprises, including using funds from unused dormant bank accounts to be repaid once sufficient income is generated.

Big Society Capital's investments back social finance intermediaries that in turn support social enterprises or infrastructure organisations for the social enterprise market, and is partly about creating the right networks between investors and social organisations seeking growth.

BSC announced its initial social investment commitments, totalling £37 million, earlier this month. A range of projects were announced by Big Society Capital and the City of London Corporation.

The City of London Corporation Social Investment Fund (CoLCSIF) also announced its own £20 million social investment fund for mainly London based projects.

Big Society Capital CEO, Nick O’Donohoe, said:

“...we are on target to make investment commitments of around £50 million by the end of 2012.

“The quality of commitments made so far is encouraging and they reflect diversity of investment type and by geographic region in the UK.”

BSC and its supporters are also drawing inspiration from a number of reports suggesting there is a big appetite for a revolution in social enterprise that is already ongoing. The Boston Consulting Group report suggests demand in the social investment market in England by 2016 could reach six times the current 2012 market as more investment from private consumer spending, government and corporate social investment, etc, fuels more demand for social enterprise models.

Evidence is on the ground in the number of grass roots social enterprise orgs that are springing up, many of them charities, that are keen to combine commerce with a social impact. This suggests a new generation could be out there that despite having cynicism about the role of some big business is keen to do business in their own enlightened manner and pursue ethical models.

BSC funding examples include the Nesta Impact Investment Fund. £8 million from the BSC is going to this UK based impact investing fund providing early stage capital, targeting investment themes such as ageing well, learning and employability of children and young people, and sustainable communities.

A Triodos New Horizons fund – a £450,000 Social Impact Bond investment to finance programmes supporting education for marginalised communities in Merseyside is another example of the BSC in action.

It’s worth pointing out that while still relatively in its early stages the social enterprise aspect of the charitable sector has been growing steadily and organically in any case.

Major charities such as Age UK have created social enterprises so they can trade; and small and medium sized organisations that are often charities are springing up all the time with an enterprise aspect.

This year a national survey of the social enterprise sector, the Fightback Britain Report, revealed that 57 per cent of social enterprises are predicting growth in the next 12 months, all of which seems to reflect a growing interest in sustainability amongst the charitable sector.

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Written and edited in London and Geneva All Xperedon news articles are original and are written by the Xperedon news team. The team is headed in the UK by Alan Cole, an experienced award-winning journalist and copywriter. Alan has previously worked in-house for UK publishers, Pearson Media (Financial Times) and Northcliffe Newspapers, among others, and is an accredited member of the National Union of Journalists, UK.

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