Charities Aid Foundation offers interest-free loan scheme to social enterprise start-ups

Chief executive John Low says Social Enterprise Assist, which uses money from businesses, will help to develop partnerships

John Low
John Low

The Charities Aid Foundation has announced a scheme that will offer interest-free loans of up to £10,000 each to help new social enterprises.

The scheme, called Social Enterprise Assist, has been set up to help social entrepreneurs gain access to early-stage funding and provide other business support.

CAF has secured £130,000 of funding from Legal & General and £200,000 from the local enterprise partnership Coast to Capital to fund the scheme.

It will be rolled out in Sussex and Croydon, with a view to expanding nationally, after a successful pilot involving social enterprises based in Brighton.

It will initially offer interest-free loans of up to £10,000 each over two to three years, plus the opportunity to tap into expertise from local business.

Interested enterprises in Croydon and Sussex can apply for support from the SE-Assist scheme from March.

John Low, chief executive of CAF, said: "Social entrepreneurs are struggling more and more to find early-stage funding as grants drop away and commercial lenders take fewer risks.

"This is the perfect opportunity for big business to step forward and support innovation in their local communities. It would be great to see such partnerships between big companies and social start-ups become commonplace."

Graham Precey, head of corporate responsibility at Legal & General, said: "After such a successful pilot, we had no hesitation in being involved and offering further investment and ‘hands-on’ support on the wider roll-out of the scheme this year."

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