A research project is to be launched to assess the market for so-called 'angel' investment in social businesses.
Ethical Angels - a project of the UK Social Investment Forum, Social Venture Network and Susten8 - will set up a network to help socially responsible businesses find appropriate private investors willing to address social and environmental concerns.
Angel investors are defined by a willingness to accept more modest returns than conventional venture capitalists and to wait for businesses to mature before expecting a profit. Industry sectors such as organic food companies, renewable energy resource centres, fair-trade and social enterprises will be obvious targets for ethical angels.
The project could result in a charity being formed to provide a service to social businesses looking for investment.
Some £30,000 has been contributed by charities and firms for the research, which will begin with a networking event at PriceWaterhouseCoopers' London HQ. The three partners will launch a PR offensive through broadsheet nationals to help get socially responsible businesses on board.
The research work will run for four or five months initially. Charlie O'Malley, joint managing partner at Susten8 said: "If research shows there is a sufficient market for it then we will look into raising funds to run a research service as either a charity or a non-profit organisation."