Access announces first investment, worth £4.4m

The Health and Wellbeing Challenge Fund (South West) is the first recipient of money from the Growth Fund operated by Access: The Foundation for Social Investment

Access: The Foundation for Social Investment has announced its first investment, which is worth £4.4m and goes to an organisation that supports health and wellbeing charities.

Access, which was set up last year to help charities and social enterprises access capital and social investment and increase their impact, operates a £45m Growth Fund to tackle the issues of supply and manages a £60m Cabinet Office-funded capacity-building programme to increase demand for social investment.

The Health and Wellbeing Challenge Fund (South West), which is run by the social impact fund provider Resonance, is the first recipient of Growth Fund funding and will offer loans to health and wellbeing charities and social enterprises in south-west England.

The HWCF(SW) totals almost £5m and has received a £400,000 investment from the South West Academic Health Science Network in addition to the £4.4m provided by Access. Charities and social enterprises can apply for loans of up to £150,000 from the fund.

The money provided by Access will be a blend of loan and grant, although further details have not yet been released on the proportion of each.

The Growth Fund, which provides a blend of loans from Big Society Capital and grants from the Big Lottery Fund to social investors across England to allow them to offer smaller loans, will make investments in between 15 and 20 loan funds when fully invested, which is expected to be by the end of 2018.

Five commitments from the Growth Fund are in legal negotiation and will be announced in the next few months, and a third of the fund has now been committed, a statement from Access said.

Three new multimillion-pound funds were announced in May as part of Access’s capacity-building programme.

Seb Elsworth, chief executive of Access, said: "The Growth Fund is there to bridge the gap between what charities and social enterprises say they need and what social investors have typically been able to offer.

"The blend of loan and grant, which we make available to social investors, means that those investors can provide smaller loans on affordable terms with appropriate support."

Daniel Brewer, managing director of Resonance, said: "There is a significant opportunity for local organisations to play a key role in evolving the regional health and wellbeing system here in the south west. This fund will help to increase the social impact and financial sustainability of those helping to make a difference in this sector."

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