The launch of the Social Enterprise Loan Fund offers hope to hundreds of charities and social enterprises in the North West that are unable to secure funding from mainstream sources.
Accessing finance to help develop a business can be challenging for many successful, well-established companies. For small community enterprises it can often be nigh on impossible – and, with the credit crunch, things have got a whole lot tougher. However, help is at hand…
The Social Enterprise Loan Fund (TSELF) aims to help organisations that have a social impact, especially those working in disadvantaged communities. TSELF is a registered charity which raises funds from a combination of public and private sources. With loan finance harder than ever to come by, the launch of the new fund couldn’t have come at a more important time.
Roy White, Regional Director in the North West, says: “Social enterprises play a vital role in our communities and I am keen to see social enterprises in the North West thrive and prosper. The focus of our efforts is to help community businesses grow in a responsible way so that they achieve long term sustainability, which is not only good for them and their employees, but also for the people they help.”
Support is provided in a number of ways – loans of up to £250,000 to purchase property or make improvements to existing buildings; loans of up to £100,000 for vehicles or equipment; loans of up to £50,000 to help with the day-to-day running of the business.
“We are used to dealing with organisations that have a diverse range of legal structures and governance arrangements, which means we understand their specific needs,” explains Roy. “However, all the enterprises we help must be able to show that they can afford the loan repayments – the last thing we want to do is cause financial difficulties for an organisation that is providing a service in its community.”
For a loan to finance property purchase or improvements, for example, interest rates are typically 2.5% - 3.5% over base rate, spread over 10 years. TSELF would normally ask for a mortgage over the property, but unlike many banks, there are usually no fees for taking out that security.
Mike Whiting, Finance Director of The Social Partnership, a charity in Liverpool helping to reintegrate long term unemployed people, many of whom have had substance misuse problems, says: “I cannot recommend The Social Enterprise Loan Fund and their Regional Director, Roy White, highly enough. We have negotiated two loans through them and in both cases the process required the minimum paperwork, whilst at the same time asking very searching questions.
"The loans have enabled us to expand our business with minimal bureaucracy, and have been invaluable in helping us to work successfully with many more beneficiaries. I greatly value our regular review meetings which help to ensure that our management information and systems remain equipped to answer any questions that may arise.”
Some of the other types of social enterprise in the North West that have been helped include a recycling business providing opportunities for people with mental health problems, a community radio station and an enterprise training and employment centre.
For more information visit www.tself.org.uk or contact Roy White at TSELF on 01928 590472 or email@example.com