FINANCE NEWS: Catalyst and Big Issue sign up leading figures for fund board

Mat Willey

Catalyst and The Big Issue have appointed a 12 member advisory board for their social sector venture capital fund.

The board will include John Bird, founder of the Big Issue, and Charles Leadbeater, a writer and adviser to the Government and leading businesses.

Maria Clancy, co-founder of Organic Express and Social Brokers, and Gordon Roddick, co-founder and chairman of the Body Shop International, have also signed up as members.

"I am tired of charity, out of guilt, which is lavished on the homeless at Christmas and then disappears for the remainder of the year," said Bird. "I wanted to encourage projects that are viable and sustainable on their own, and which enable people to help themselves by creating something."

The £50 million fund will target charities and other social businesses including education, health and environment. It will also allow investors to play a role in the management of charity trading arms while gaining a return for their investments after they withdraw.

The fund decided to focus on these areas in response to demand for ethical and environmentally sound products plus the shift from provider services to purchaser of services by local authorities.

These two factors combined with the negligence of the sector by previous venture capital funds give Catalyst hope for further boosting financial returns.

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