Exclusive £4.25m fund for social entrepreneurs launched

A new fund that will support only social entrepreneurs has been launched with the backing of a group of big businesses and wealthy individuals.

The Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund, an initiative of venture capital firm Bridges Ventures and the Bridges Charitable Trust, has so far raised £4.25m, which it will invest in social enterprises with sustainable business models.

The fund was launched yesterday at Nesta, the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, which made the first commitment to the fund and acted as a catalyst for private sector investment.

Other founder partners include Sir Ronald Cohen, chair of Bridges Ventures, businessmen Nigel Doughty and Harvey McGrath, the charitable arms of finance firms Apax Partners and Lehman Brothers in Europe, and members of Bridges Ventures, who have allocated funds from their profit share.

The launch of the fund comes after Bridges Ventures' 2005 report Equity-like Capital for Social Ventures, which showed that the sector had impact and growth potential, but raising investment to grow was a major obstacle.

"The development of social enterprises is being held back by a chronic shortage of long-term capital," said Cohen. "The launch of the Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund is an important development in addressing their long-term investment needs."

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