Social entrepreneurs once struggled when it came to raising money, perceived to be a risky bet. But that perception has changed. And Big Issue Invest has been in the vanguard of that change.
The success of Big Issue Invest, the social investment arm of The Big Issue, shows the incredible impact financial investment can have on life-changing social projects across the UK.
Over the past decade Big Issue Invest has established a formidable reputation as the country’s leading social investor – offering business solutions to society’s problems. It is a pioneering way to fund social businesses, charities and other ventures tackling poverty.
Big Issue Invest has established a formidable reputation as the country’s leading social investor
Big Issue Invest harnesses the power of financial investment to help grow the organisations addressing some of the country’s most pressing social problems – making a major difference in fields like job training, education, housing and financial inclusion.
Ground-breaking and celebrated projects supported by Big Issue Invest include the Fifteen Foundation (pictured above), 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 the start-up of a restaurant in Cornwall where more than 100 young chefs have received training since it opened.
More recently, Big Issue Invest provided finance to Sandwell Community Care Trust. Sandwell have proved to be incredible change-makers. The organisation, which focused first as a care-giver in the Black Country, has grown to set up a wonderful vocational school in West Bromwich. Sandwell Valley School (pictured above) offers teenagers who may have toiled and floundered at other local schools a second chance to gain the skills and qualifications they need for life ahead. Already rated good by Ofsted, the school is a success story to make the heart sing.
Then there’s the Rental Exchange scheme, established in collaboration with the UK’s leading credit reference agency Experian. Big Issue Invest recognised that millions of social housing tenants who paid their rent like clockwork were receiving nothing back for years of smart financial management. Shouldn’t they receive similar benefits to those meeting mortgage payments?
The Big Issue magazine is read by an estimated 379,195 people across the UK and circulates 82,294 copies every week.
So, with Experian’s help, these rent payments have the potential to help 3.4 million social housing tenants – by improving their credit score. This now means they can get affordable loans and get decent deals on items as simple, but necessary, as household appliances.
Big Issue Invest is also working with Greater London Authority to help create more affordable housing through the £10m London Housing Fund. The fund aims to create 200 affordable homes in London as a well as 180 new jobs and apprenticeships.
The Threadneedle UK Social Bond Fund, based on a partnership between Big Issue Invest and Columbia Threadneedle Investments, has offered investors both a competitive financial return and a positive social impact. The fund is made up of a portfolio of 83 different bonds issued for projects, creating a more regionally balanced and inclusive economy. Investment for good.
The roll of honour stretches on. Earlier this year Big Issue Invest launched Impact Loans England, a new £5m lending scheme aimed at enabling social enterprises to access loan funding of between £20,000 and £150,000. The funding is available to organisations keen to do more of the good work they do – whether it’s buying equipment, hiring new talent or progressing with business development plans.
Big Issue Invest was set up to help tackle and prevent some of our biggest social problems
“Big Issue Invest was set up to help tackle and prevent some of our biggest social problems,” said Nigel Kershaw OBE, Chair of The Big Issue Group. “What we do is not charity. 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.”
All Big Issue Invest money is raised privately, not from sales of the magazine. Any surplus earned by Big Issue Invest is used to support the missions championed by The Big Issue magazine and The Big Issue Foundation.
Big Issue Invest in numbers:
- Big Issue Invest currently manages or advises on £150m of social funds. Since 2005, BII has invested in more than 300 different social ventures across the UK
- Big Issue Invest is helping to create more affordable housing through the £10m London Housing Fund, which invests in organisations looking to renovate empty homes or buildings and convert them into good-quality affordable housing
- Big Issue Invest directly invested £5m last year, and the work of those organisations benefitted more than one million people throughout the UK
- The Threadneedle UK Social Bond Fund, based on a partnership
between Big Issue Invest and Columbia Threadneedle Investments, is a pioneering fund made up of a portfolio of 83 different bonds issued for projects building a more balanced and inclusive economy.