£5m up for grabs for social bodies

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Social enterprises in Sheffield are being urged to apply for cash after a funding organisation set itself a regional target of investing £1m-a-month for the next five months.

Key Fund wants to hear from people keen to start a community or social enterprise, or expand an existing one - and is offering a blend of loans and grants.

Based in Sheffield, Key Fund is a social enterprise established to counteract the scourge of long-term unemployment after the collapse of the steel and coal industries in South Yorkshire. It has directly invested £35m since it was established in 1999.

Garry Brown, head of investment, said: “We’re asking anyone living in Yorkshire and the Humber who has an idea, or is involved in a group, organisation, enterprise, or community with an enterprising idea, to talk to us.

“Key Fund is committed to supporting the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector. We know how hard it can be to balance the costs of delivering positive impacts in disadvantaged areas with the tight financial realities of balancing the books, which is why we are offering grants alongside our loans.

“Many people who want to start their own community or social enterprise, or expand and grow an existing one, aren’t aware that there is an alternative to mainstream investors. With us, you don’t need assets or even necessarily experience, you just need a fantastic business idea that benefits society.”

All fund clients have been turned down by mainstream investors because they don’t fit lending criteria, he added.