Thinking about starting a social enterprise?

Financing your social enterprise

As with any business, one of the main issues you are likely to face will be finding sources of finance to help convert your idea into a viable business operation, in order to meet your social and environmental objectives.

When you start to look for sources of investment finance, it is advisable to write a business plan so that you can formally present your case to potential investors or loan providers. See our guide on how to use your business plan to get funding.

The number of investors seeking both social and financial returns on their money is growing. Charitable trusts and foundations are among the financial institutions that lend to or invest in social enterprises.

Sources of finance for social enterprises

It is worth investigating traditional finance providers, including banks and building societies, some of which are social enterprises themselves. You could also seek donations from family and friends or the local community.

Another option is to approach a Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI). CDFIs have been created specifically to provide investment in businesses that operate in disadvantaged communities. Find information on CDFIs and sources of finance on the Community Development Finance Association (CDFA) website.

Government-backed funding includes the Adventure Capital Fund (ACF), which helps ambitious social enterprises to become financially sustainable through a mixture of loans and grants and the provision of expert mentoring and support services. Find out if you are eligible to apply for funding on the ACF website.

Futurebuilders England may offer support if you are looking to set up your social enterprise to provide public services. Check to see if you are eligible to apply for support on the Futurebuilders England website.

You can also approach the Bridges Community Development Venture Fund (BCDVF), which has attracted matched funding from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills. Read about the social criteria for investment for the BCDVF on the Bridges Ventures website.

In addition, third sector organisations can search for grants and loan financing on the Funding Central website.

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