Social lenders merge their investment operations

The Social Enterprise Loan Fund will still be a separate charity, but its loans will now be managed by Big Issue Invest under chief executive Nigel Kershaw

Nigel Kershaw
Nigel Kershaw

The social lenders Big Issue Invest and the Social Enterprise Loan Fund have merged their investment operations.

TSELF will continue to exist as a separate charity, with its own trustee board, but all its loans will now be managed by Big Issue Invest.

Mike Baker, chief executive of TSELF, will continue with the new organisation as director of its loan portfolio and Nigel Kershaw, chief executive of Big Issue Invest, will remain in the same role at the combined organisation.

The new organisation will have a total of 11.5 full-time-equivalent staff – Baker said there would be no redundancies as a result of the merger.

The new organisation will be known as Big Issue Invest, but "The Social Enterprise Loan Fund" will appear as a strapline in its new logo.

The organisations have a combined loan book of £6.2m, with another £1.3m in the pipeline, and will have another £8m available to invest.

The two organisations have worked together out of the same London office for a year and already share several back-office functions.

Baker said that discussions about a formal merger had been developing for some time, and that both organisations had been involved in "gradually doing due diligence on one another", but the process had been hastened by difficulties arising from the loss of the regional development agencies that provided much of his organisation’s funding.

"Fortunately we were well under way already, or we would have had to rush into something similar that wouldn’t have worked as well," he said. "This will provide significant cost savings. We can support two loan books for the price of one and a half."

Kershaw said that the move met many of both organisations’ requirements."We’re here to support others to grow to scale," he said. "It makes sense to grow to scale ourselves. We felt that would make us more attractive to larger funders. We also felt that we had a common mission to support social enterprise."

Kershaw said the new partnership made it easier to offer finance in different amounts across England."We can now offer loans or investment of anything from £50,000 to £1m, anywhere in the country," he said.

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