HSBC has invested £4m in a fund run by the social lender Big Issue Invest, which lends money to social enterprises and charities.
The investment brings the total size of Big Issue Invest’s Social Enterprise Investment Fund, which makes loans to and buys share capital in social enterprise, to £8m.
The fund has also attracted investment from charitable sources including the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, and from more mainstream sources such as Deutsche Bank.
Richard Cole, global head of principal investments and private equity at HSBC, said: "There is an important role for banks to play within this area, which encompasses their own corporate sustainability agendas.
"It’s a pilot initiative for us, but we hope this could be the start of a number of investments HSBC makes in this area."
The move is the latest of several from banks interested in putting money into social enterprise. Deutsche Bank recently announced a £10m social enterprise investment fund, and four high-street banks have agreed to commit £200m to the wholesale lender Big Society Capital.
Nigel Kershaw, chief executive of Big Issue Invest, said his organisation was able to invest anything from £50,000 to £1m in a social enterprise, and could make many different types of investment, from simple unsecured loans to buying share capital.