March 30, 2015

New UK Access Fund Launches

The social finance market in the UK is buoyant, momentum is growing and more and more access to finance initiatives are taking shape. The latest on that front is the launch of “Access: The Foundation for Social Investment,” chaired by former EVPA Board member John Kingston. 

Access Launch 2015

With £100 million in funding for its programmes, the Foundation’s mission is filling the gaps in the emerging social investment market and building bridges between its players. It’s doing this by providing access to finance to early stage charities, social enterprises and other organisations creating business models to solve social needs.  

Concretely, on the funders’ side it is enabling social lenders to make up to £150.000 in a mix of grants and loans available to charities and social enterprises (through a ’Growth Fund’ vehicle, supported by up to a £22.5 million grant from the Big Lottery Fund, £22.5 million in loan funds from Big Society Capital).

“Access is about small deals – with appropriate due diligence, where either risk is high, unknown or perceived high – putting investors off. Access is about taking on that risk.”

On the social enterprise side, funding (through a £60m endowment from the UK Cabinet office) is reserved for these players to better understand and be ready to access the capital they need. Even if the UK’s social investment market is considered one of the most advanced in the world, John Kingston has found that gaps still exist. He adds: 

From May 1st, interested Social Investment Finance Intermediaries – including UK based EVPA members – will be able to apply to Access for both grants and loans to invest. John Kings ends by pointing out that Access itself is also not just about funding either: “Access is not just a pool of money, we are also about research, galvanising change, encouraging the market.”  

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