Social enterprises in Wales now have the opportunity to apply for a package of finance and support aimed at transforming their business as well as supporting their local community.
Successful applicants will be offered an interest free loan of between £10,000 and £30,000, mentoring from corporate supporters and access to a bank of experts.
The multi-award-winning Social Enterprise Assist (SE-Assist) scheme, first piloted in Brighton & Hove in 2012, connects local social enterprises with larger companies in the local area and as a result injects prosperity into local communities. Leading insurer and Welsh employer Legal & General, which has a 1,300 employee strong office in Cardiff, has provided the funding to help social enterprises get off the ground, thrive and drive regeneration in Wales. The SE-Assist fund sits alongside Legal & General’s recent £400m investment into Cardiff’s Central Square property redevelopment project, the largest investment of its kind ever made in Wales.
The Welsh Government has committed to a secondment to support the development of the fund in Wales. Founding partners the Welsh Cooperative, Business in the Community, the Institute of Directors, and the Charities Aid Foundation have joined forces to develop and launch SE-Assist in Wales.
Since the launch of its initial pilot, SE-Assist has successfully supported 16 social enterprises in Sussex and Croydon. Previous examples of social enterprises include ethical supermarket hiSbe, dementia interventionist Engage & Create, and sustainable farming cooperative Ecological Land Co-op. They are all part of the SE-Assist story, and now through SE-Assist Wales, SE-Assist can offer more social enterprises nationally an opportunity to grow. Over ninety jobs have been created as a result of the success of businesses that have been funded to date.
Businesses interested in more details and how to apply can find out more on the SE-Assist Wales website at https://se-assist.co.uk/wales/. Applications open on 29 January 2016.
The number of social enterprises in Wales has grown rapidly in recent years, with 19% of social enterprises established within the last three years and a prevalence of social enterprises in the leisure, education, environment and health sectors.
However, mature social enterprises are more like to receive donations or to trade with the public sector than young social enterprises, with organisations commonly citing lack of access to finance and cash flow issues as barriers to sustainability.
The SE-Assist Wales fund is welcomed by us because it exists to plug this gap in support to help fledgling social enterprises get a sustainable footing within their sector and access growth opportunities.
Derek Walker, Chief Executive of the Wales Co-operative Centre, Wales’ National body for co-operatives and social businesses
Legal & General is pleased to bring this award winning new Social Enterprise Assist fund to Wales. So far, compared to the other regions where we’ve provided this fund to in Croydon and Sussex, we’ve been hugely impressed at the amount of social impact and job creation that social enterprises have the potential to create here in Wales.
Alongside our work as a major employer in Wales and as a major investor, recently announcing our £400m investment in Cardiff regeneration, it seems only natural that we should bring our social investment fund to help the Welsh social economy to thrive. Not only will we be putting capital into the fund we will be bringing our employees mentoring skills too.
Graham Precey, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Legal & General
We are thrilled to be bringing SE-Assist to Wales to support early stage social enterprises to thrive. Social enterprises can make a huge difference to people in the communities where they operate and create significant social impact.
As one of the UK’s longest standing social investment funds, CAF Venturesome is excited to work with our partners to grow access to finance and business expertise for early stage social enterprises in Wales.
These forward-thinking entrepreneurs often struggle to find the right kind of financing and support they need to enable them to get their ideas off the ground. SE-Assist focuses on channelling resources for growth, allowing social enterprises to flourish.
Holly Piper, Head of CAF Venturesome at the Charities Aid Foundation