Launch of Enterprising Communities Fund

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By Sheenagh Young, CEO at South Manchester Credit Union and Chair of SoundPound Consortium

Greater Manchester is about to be the first place in the UK where local credit unions invest directly in local social enterprises through an innovative £4.1million investment fund for organisations and businesses trading for social good, the Enterprising Communities Fund.

The Fund is close to launch and has been created through a partnership between GMCVO, The Greater Manchester Consortium of Credit Unions (GMCU), Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), Access – The Foundation for Social Investment and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

GMCU is a consortium of 13 credit unions, all based in GM. We are unique in the UK.

We have joined forces to amplify our existing financial services offer and to work together on collaborations across the city region. We have developed strong links with Fair4AllFinance as we share the ambition to make the financial services sector fairer for everyone.

Organisations or social businesses working in Greater Manchester who are looking to grow their business activities will soon be able to apply to the Enterprising Communities Fund for an investment of up to £100,000.

There will be a grant element of an average of 20% of each investment to support applicants with the application process, and for them to consider ‘net zero’ implications and energy efficiency as part of their idea.

The Fund aims to make a large proportion of investments in communities where the need is highest.

Social investment is a loan given to organisations and businesses who are trading for a social, cultural, or environmental benefit to bring about positive change.

This could include addressing social needs, strengthening communities, improving people’s life chances, enhancing culture, or protecting the environment.

The launch of the Enterprising Communities Fund represents a milestone for the development of the social economy of our city region; another solid step in Greater Manchester becoming the social enterprise capital of the UK.

The community wealth deposited in local credit unions becomes a resource for local people to grow social enterprises. Credit unions are natural investment partners as they also exist to serve local people and improve their life chances.

Cat Chrimes, Head of Social Enterprise and Investment at GMCVO, said:

“Credit unions have supported individuals in their communities for years and we are excited to be bringing together credit unions with GMCA to invest in voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations that are having a real impact in their communities – helping to create more good jobs, positive environmental impact and social change, all of which is important during this economic crisis. The grant money provided by Access will help to improve the resilience of organisations in the early days of taking on the investment. This is the first time that this kind of partnership has come together, and we look forward to being able to evidence the importance of place-based investing using community wealth.”

Do you work for, or know of, a local social enterprise which may be interested in this investment fund? Share it with them!

You can find more information about the investment fund as well as other sources of investment and how to apply on GMCVO’s website:

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i3oz9sLaunch of Enterprising Communities Fund