I don’t meet all of your criteria; can I still apply?

Absolutely. We do not expect applicants to meet all of our criteria, but you must have an eligible form of governance. Our mentoring programme will identify any critical gaps and provide you with support to fill those gaps. We would always recommend an initial discussion, so we can understand your enterprise and advise you on the best way forward.

My business has a different governance model to your criteria; can I still apply?

We would recommend you call us to discuss your form of governance. As a charitable programme we cannot support unincorporated organisations (e.g. sole traders) and would rarely support a company limited by shares due to the risk of private benefit. However, if you would consider changing your governance model, we can provide you with support to do that.

Are you able to support organisations across the UK?

Yes, we can support organisations throughout the UK.

What happens if our application is unsuccessful?

If unsuccessful, we will do our best to identify other sources of finance for you. We will also provide you with advice on how you could increase your chances of success if you reapply again at a later date.

Is there a deadline for applications?

There are four funding rounds per year and the deadlines for applications in 2019 are 24th May, 30th August and 8th November. We strongly advise that you apply as soon as possible, as further application windows will only occur if funding allows. To register your interest, please fill out this simple form.

Can I apply for more or less funding?

We cannot accept applications for less than £25,000 due to the costs involved. If you need more than £100,000 please contact us to see if this might be possible.

Can I repay the loan early?

We want to keep our interest rates, fees and administrative costs as low as possible and therefore do not typically allow early repayment.

Do you take any security?

No. All of our loans are unsecured.

Is there any flexibility in the requirement to raise community finance?

Yes, we want to be as flexible as possible and design a solution that works for your enterprise. However, previous organisations we have worked with have found the process of raising community finance to be extremely valuable to their organisational development and growth plans. It shows that you have a community of support for the products and services that you provide and helps us to keep our due diligence costs as low as possible. We absolutely do not want it to be a burden to your organisation and the mentoring programme can help where required. We would urge you to contact us if you have any concerns.

What do you mean by Investment Readiness?

Investment readiness means getting your organisation to a point where it can approach a social investor like LEAP and reassure that investor that it can deliver significant social benefits, has a strong business model in place and the capacity to successfully take on and repay an investment over time.

How much mentoring is available?

We have our own mentoring budget, provided by the Power to Change Foundation (for organisations in England) and Esmée Fairbairn (for organisations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), and we are also an Access Point. As an Access Point, we can help you apply for Reach Fund grants which will pay for the investment readiness support; this grant can be used for specialist consultancy support, to boost capacity within your organisation or a mix of both.

We will complete an ‘investment readiness diagnostic’ with you which will determine the exact structure, depth and breadth of the mentoring programme. This will be summarised in an investment readiness plan. We anticipate that it will take between 3 and 12 months to deliver this plan with the help of specialists in the areas you need help; this could be in areas such business planning, financial modelling, governance, community finance, social impact delivery, marketing strategy.

What is the Reach Fund?

The Reach Fund is a capacity building programme from Access – The Foundation for Social Investment that is managed by Social Investment Business. It is an investment readiness programme that offers grants to help social enterprises raise investment. The grants are for specific work to help raise investment. They are not general capacity building grants. As an Access Point, we are able to refer you to the Reach Fund in order to apply for grants to help you raise investment from us.

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