Call for Businesses to Join New Scheme to Help the Growth of Croydon Social Enterprises
A pioneering government-backed scheme providing support to social enterprises will launch for the first time in Croydon this year, it was announced today.
Social entrepreneurs will have the chance to get their businesses off the ground with the help of the scheme, which will provide funding and support from businesses in their local communities. The scheme, Social Enterprise Assist (SE-Assist) led by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), will work with established businesses in Croydon to support a number of local social enterprises.
SE-Assist will now open for applications from social entrepreneurs in Croydon this March after gaining support from Croydon Council. There is £150,000 available to invest in a range of social enterprises in Croydon to support their development. SE-Assist will also re-launch in Sussex where the programme was piloted last year. The aim is to roll the scheme out to more cities and regions across the UK so more social enterprises may benefit.
Social enterprises that benefited from the scheme in Sussex last year included an ethical supermarket, a creative writing group, a parent support group and an IT consultancy charity. The support helped ethical supermarket hiSbe Food CIC get to the position where it could finally open its doors in Brighton last month after receiving a loan and expert consultancy.
The scheme currently has £330,000 in funding. £100,000 has been contributed by Legal & General, which is in addition to the £30,000 they have already invested, and £200,000 by the Coast to Capital (C2C) Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
The programme has the potential to deliver millions of pounds of investment to a wide range of start-up business who may currently be struggling to raise funding or lack the expertise or experience to get off the ground. So CAF and Legal & General are calling for other businesses to join the scheme and make capital and/ or their expertise and time available to help grow businesses in their local communities.
The social entrepreneurs will be offered a unique package comprising of an interest free loan of up to £10,000, mentoring and access to an investors networks to receive expert consultancy.
Charities Aid Foundation Offers Interest-free Loan Scheme to Social Enterprise Start-ups
Chief executive John Low says Social Enterprise Assist, which uses money from businesses, will help to develop partnerships.
The Charities Aid Foundation has announced a scheme that will offer interest-free loans of up to £10,000 each to help new social enterprises.
The scheme, called Social Enterprise Assist, has been set up to help social entrepreneurs gain access to early-stage funding and provide other business support.
CAF has secured £130,000 of funding from Legal & General and £200,000 from the local enterprise partnership Coast to Capital to fund the scheme.
It will be rolled out in Sussex and Croydon, with a view to expanding nationally, after a successful pilot involving social enterprises based in Brighton.
It will initially offer interest-free loans of up to £10,000 each over two to three years, plus the opportunity to tap into expertise from local business.
Interested enterprises in Croydon and Sussex can apply for support from the SE-Assist scheme from March.
Social entrepreneurs are struggling more and more to find early-stage funding as grants drop away and commercial lenders take fewer risks.
This is the perfect opportunity for big business to step forward and support innovation in their local communities. It would be great to see such partnerships between big companies and social start-ups become commonplace.
John Low, Chief Executive, CAF
After such a successful pilot, we had no hesitation in being involved and offering further investment and ‘hands-on’ support on the wider roll-out of the scheme this year.
Graham Precey, Head of Corporate Responsibility, Legal & General
SE-Assist Roadshow – What is SE-Assist?
Social enterprises are a key element of the future economy.
SE-Assist delivers support to social enterprises that have clear opportunities for success but require additional support that is not available elsewhere.
SE-Assist provides a blended package of support for social enterprises in Sussex and Croydon, which will include interest free loans, mentoring and access to expert business advice.
We are holding several roadshows across Sussex with the first one taking place in Brighton on the 29 January at the Social Enterprise Centre for Brighton & Hove. At the first event you can hear from Sarah Watkins, one of our SE-Assist 2013 winners from the award winning Parentskool.