Social investment foundation announces three new programmes

Access: The Foundation for Social Investment says in a strategy document that the initiatives will run from 2016 to 2018 and will focus on capacity-building

Access: The Foundation for Social Investment has announced three new multimillion-pound programmes designed to increase demand for social investment among charities and social enterprises.

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.

It says in a strategy document released today that the new schemes, which will run between 2016 and 2018, will focus on the capacity-building remit of Access’s work.

The first, which is called the Reach Fund, is worth £3.6m a year and will provide investment-readiness grants of up to £10,000 to charities and social enterprises seeking social investment.

The grants will be delivered through approved social investors, who will be called "access points", and the aim is to increase the number of charities and social enterprises that are able to take on loans and are aware of how social investment is relevant to their work.

A second programme, focused on impact management, will provide help and support for charities developing impact management to help them raise investment or bid for a contract, such as with central or local government. The programme, which is worth £1.6m a year, will also develop a "self-service pathway", to be used by charities and social enterprises to "define an initial impact management strategy".

Both programmes will open for applications in the summer.

A third programme will focus on supporting the social investment market’s infrastructure, although details on the cost of the programme have not yet been confirmed.

Seb Elsworth, chief executive of Access, told Third Sector: "I think the important thing is that we keep responding to how the market is changing, and obviously things are evolving quickly. That is why we have a two-year initial strategy rather than a longer one.

"We are learning a lot as an organisation and are still in an early stage of our development, but we also recognise that other things are changing; other programmes come and go and we want to make sure we respond to the opportunities that charities have to access investment.

"There may be gaps that need to be plugged, and that is a big part of how we want to be flexible and continue to be responsive."

Further announcements about the Growth Fund, including its first round of investments in intermediaries, will be released in the next few weeks.

Elsworth said there had been 40 expressions of interest so far, the majority of which were eligible for the programme. It is expected that four organisations will be announced in due course, with 15 to 20 investments likely to be made over the next few years.

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