Investment and Contract Readiness Fund opens for grant applications

Jonathan Jenkins, chief of the Social Investment Business, says the fund aims to improve charities' bids for public sector contracts

Jonathan Jenkins
Jonathan Jenkins

Grants will be available from today from a £10m fund designed to help charities and social enterprises win public sector contracts and attract social investment.

The Investment and Contract Readiness Fund, run by the Social Investment Business on behalf of the Office for Civil Society, will give grants of between £50,000 and £150,000 to social ventures aiming to raise at least £500,000 in investment, or to bid for contracts worth at least £1m.

The fund is intended to help scale up organisations with the potential to grow quickly, the SIB said.

It will fund activities such as business planning, impact measurement and financial management, and will also support organisations to improve their senior management teams and to identify support services that will improve their skills.

An investors panel, made up of organisations working in social investment and chaired by Big Society Capital, has set criteria for the programme and will select the social ventures that will receive grants.

In order to be eligible for a grant, a charity or social enterprise must work in partnership with an approved provider, which will help it develop a bid. Approved providers so far are ClearlySo, Locality, Resonance and Social Finance.

Bids can be made on a rolling basis over the next three years. The fund will close to new applications each August, at which point new criteria may be issued.

Jonathan Jenkins, chief executive of the SIB, said: "The fund aims to complement the work of Big Society Capital and catalyse a more vibrant impact investment market in the UK.

"We want to encourage both providers and ventures to develop high-quality proposals and have dispensed with traditional sector funding windows to allow organisations the opportunity to submit primed proposals on an ongoing basis." 

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