Finance: Brown proposes social enterprise start-up fund

Chancellor Gordon Brown has mooted a new government fund to help new charities and social enterprises get started.

In a speech widely seen as setting out the agenda he would pursue should he become Prime Minister, Brown said new not-for-profit organisations needed access to finance.

"We established Futurebuilders to help existing charities adapt to the modern world," he said.

"We need to examine how we might do more to encourage new charities and social enterprises, locally and nationally, to start up, develop and flourish - perhaps with a fund for seedcorn finance."

Government-backed investment funds, such as the Adventure Capital Fund, have provided some seed capital for social enterprises working in specific areas, but there is no general fund for new start-ups in the sector.

Jonathan Bland, chief executive of the Social Enterprise Coalition, said he was keen to work with the Treasury on the idea.

"Because social enterprises are not principally in business to build shareholder value, they often find it difficult to find money to get going - for example, for feasibility work or initial risk capital," he said.

Richard Gutch, chief executive of Futurebuilders, also lent his support.

"We find that organisations need help at the beginning to develop their concepts," he said. "We can't really help at that stage because we haven't got the resources. I think there is a gap there, and this could be a way of filling it."

- See Newsmaker, page 11.

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