Big Issue Invest: A recipe for success

From Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Foundation to the Rental Exchange Scheme, Big Issue Invest has backed some ground-breaking projects

Good ideas can often wither on the vine without proper financial backing. Big Issue Invest (BII) is the social investment arm of The Big Issue and is always looking to talk to social entrepreneurs who are creating social impact across the UK. Since 2005, Big Issue Invest (a social enterprise itself) has established a formidable reputation as one of the country’s leading social investors.

Social investment has been hailed as a pioneering way to fund social businesses, charities and other ventures tackling poverty and creating opportunity for people across the country. Big Issue Invest harnesses the power of financial investment to help grow the organisations addressing some of the country’s most pressing social problems, in fields like job training, housing, mental health and financial inclusion.

Some of the ground-breaking projects that Big Issue Invest has supported include the Fifteen Foundation, Jamie Oliver’s social enterprise that has provided training and job opportunities for disadvantaged young people in the restaurant industry. Big Issue Invest helped finance a restaurant in Cornwall where more than 100 young chefs have received training since it opened.

After more than 10 years, Big Issue Invest continues to innovate and forge new partnerships:

  • In 2015-2016, Big Issue Invest directly made 60 investments totalling almost £10m
  • The money we invested is raised by external sources, not through sales of the magazine
  • Any surplus made by Big Issue Invest is reinvested into the wider mission of The Big Issue

Blue Sky Development and Regeneration received investment from Big Issue Invest to help provide job opportunities for ex-offenders. Blue Sky delivers commercial contracts for municipal grounds maintenance, waste collection and recycling, and has employed around 1000 ex-offenders in the last 10 years. Impressively, fewer than 15 per cent have reoffended.

After more than 10 years, Big Issue Invest continues to innovate and forge new partnerships. The Rental Exchange scheme, in collaboration with the UK’s leading credit reference agency Experian, is helping social housing tenants improve their credit score and get better deals when buying goods at lower interest rates.

Dismantling poverty by creating opportunity.

The Big Issue exists to dismantle poverty by creating opportunity through self-help, social trading and business solutions.

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And through the Corporate Social Venturing (CSV) programme, Big Issue Invest uses corporate partnerships to support and nurture a new generation of high-potential social entrepreneurs.

Big Issue Invest and Greater London Authority are now also helping to create more affordable housing through the £10m London Housing Fund. It aims to create 200 affordable homes in London as well as 180 new jobs and apprenticeships.

And as the Prime Minister Theresa May writes in this week’s magazine, stopping poverty from happening in the first place – “the power of prevention” – is often the most effective way of making that difference.

Nigel Kershaw OBE, Executive Chair of The Big Issue Group, says: “Big Issue Invest was set up to help tackle and prevent some of our biggest social problems. We invest in businesses led by socially minded entrepreneurs from all walks of life. We understand first-hand how good, smart businesses can do great things.”

For more information, and to see if Big Issue Invest can help your organisation, visit