A new £30 million fund for Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs) launched today to meet the needs of small businesses that create positive social impact in their local communities.
The Community Investment Enterprise Facility, established by Big Society Capital and managed by Social Investment Scotland, will meet some of the capital needs of CDFIs, help build a better understanding of their lending, and test models of funding for CDFIs to attract other socially motivated investors.
Small businesses are essential in disadvantaged communities both as employers of local people and drivers of economic activity. Many are unable to access mainstream finance to sustain and grow their businesses even if they are creditworthy. CDFIs play an important role in providing capital for these businesses.
Over the next three years, it is hoped that at least a further £30 million will be raised through socially motivated investors alongside Big Society Capital.
Big Society Capital sees improving lives in disadvantaged communities as one of its core aims, and small businesses can play a vital role in this. The CDFI sector has already achieved a great deal, and it has even more potential to meet the need of small businesses in the communities they serve. Together with our partners, we believe we can realise this potential, principally through our capital but also building knowledge and convening stakeholders.
Social Investment Scotland, as one of the largest CDFIs in the UK, is delighted to be working with Big Society Capital on the Community Investment Enterprises Facility. Since being established in 2001, we have built up a deep understanding of the needs of disadvantaged communities, and the vital role that small businesses play in the creation of both economic growth and social impact. This new facility, delivering capital at scale, is an important next step for the CDFI sector as a whole, and starts to align growth with more established CDFI movements in the USA. In 2015, we were the first CDFI outside the USA to receive an independent CDFI credit rating from Aeris and in rolling this methodology out further in the UK in line with this facility, hope that the sector will attract greater attention and credibility with mainstream investors.
Big Society Capital has commissioned the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University to evaluate the facility over its duration, in order to provide a more robust evidence base for CDFI lending.
CRESR is delighted to be working with Big Society Capital and Social Investment Scotland to help build the evidence base for CDFI lending. As with much of our work the focus for the evaluation will be on understanding impact from both social and economic perspectives. An innovative feature of this project is the emphasis on robust data that is both accessible and transparent – an online data dashboard will provide up-to-date evidence about the progress and performance of the facility throughout its implementation.
Alongside Big Society Capital, Citi is convening the Community Investment Steering Group which will focus on the routes to achieving capital at scale for CDFIs.
We look forward to working with Big Society Capital on this new initiative, bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders who all share a common commitment to developing the UK's CDFI sector. Our objective is to develop a clear vision for delivering capital at scale for CDFIs. Ultimately our goal is to increase the amount of capital available to small businesses in communities across the UK, and I’m confident we can make great progress in achieving that objective.
The Facility will initially invest in up to five CDFIs across the UK. It is anticipated that the first round of investment will be into partners who helped to develop the Facility, with the intention to expand the reach over time through this facility or by future initiatives. For more information, visit www.communityinvestment.co.uk