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Social Enterprise & Innovation

Funding Opportunities

Ashoka funds a small number of social entrepreneurs each year whose organisation are ready to scale-up.

Big Society Capital is an independent financial institution set up to design and shape a sustainable social investment market in the UK. It provides organisations tackling major social issues with access to new sources of finance by investing in social investment finance intermediaries. These are organisations that provide appropriate and affordable finance to social sector organisations.

Bridges Ventures funds have specific strategies to achieve a positive social and/or environmental impact. Bridges Ventures have £150m under management in two venture funds, the Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund and the Bridges Sustainable Property Fund. 

Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund brings together social investorswanting to support social impact with social enterprises seeking to grow.

CAF Venturesome offers social purpose organisations support and capital, recognising that this type of investment may fall outside of the criteria of grant-makers and is often perceived as too risky for banks.  Their aim is to finance charity ventures deemed high risk by even the Community Development Finance Institutions. Like Charity Bank, they work with charities in order to understand what type of finance is suitable for each individual case.

CAN runs a venture philanthropy programme called CAN Breakthrough.This provides funding and management support to help established social enterprises scale up and maximise their social impact. Funding is concentrated on established organisations with three years trading.

Co-operative Loan Fund Funding from the Co-operative movement to support co-operative development.

FundIt.Buzz (formerly Buzzbnk) wasco-founded by Michael Norton, OBE and Theresa Burton in 2009. Thewebsite launched in January 2011 as the UK's 1st crowdfunding platformspecifically for social enterprises and charities. FundIt.Buzz merged withTrillion Fund Ltd November 1, 2014. FundIt.Buzz.orgcontinues after the merger on its mission to help social enterprises andcharities raise the funding and support they need.

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation funds the charitable activities of organisations that have the ideas and ability to achieve change for the better. They support work that might otherwise be considered difficult to fund. The Fund offers finance to projects or organisations that can demonstrate the need for investment and the capacity to manage the demands of non-grant funding. Arrangements could include loans, guarantees, equity or quasi-equity finance. This builds upon a successful pilot programme which explored alternative opportunities to grant finance in the voluntary sector.

Funding Central online Guide helping social enterprises and charities to find funding opportunities; grants, contracts and loans.

Future builders investments are available to third sector organisations in England delivering or planning to deliver public services and were unable to secure investment from commercial lenders.

Key Fund are the largest regionally based and focussed social investor in the country, offering a relationship based lending approach to clients.

SIB Local Impact Fund Local Impact Funds are a local social investment fund product that provides appropriate and tailored support to charities and social enterprises in a local community. It can provide a locally-led solution to directing the existing supply of finance to where it is most needed.

Social Business Trust provides grants and business advice to social enterprises based in the UK. The purpose of SBT is to support the growth of selected social enterprises and help them to achieve greater social impact.

Social Finance provides a range of financial advice services to help build the social investment market. They are dedicated to finding ways to raise capital through robust investment propositions.

Social Investment Business is the UK's largest social investor and provides finance to charities, social enterprise and community organisations helping them to prosper by providing innovative financial solutions and business support. 

Spacehive Spacehiveis a crowdfunding funding platform for projects that make local places better.

Sponsume is anonline crowdfunding platform for creative individuals and organizations toraise awareness and funds for their projects.

The Big Give is designed for any registered UK charity looking for funding in excess of£100,000. The free-to-use website allows charities to post details of their proposed projects.

Wellcome Trust A huge charitable foundation and a funder of medical research and biotech apps.If your idea is about improving human or animal health, you should speak to them.

Support for Social Enterprises

There are a number of organisations and schemes to help new social enterprises start up and grow. 

Business in the Community is the Prince's Responsible Business Network working together to tackle a wide range of issues that are essential to building a fairer society and a more sustainable future. 

Community Development Foundation (CDF) provide grants, support for making grants and links to other funding sites, to community and voluntary groups working to improve communities. 

Community Empowerment offers free advice to people looking to start their own co-operative social enterprises and create/sustain employment in the UK. 

Community Foundation Network represents the community foundation movement in the UK. Community foundations are charities located across the UK dedicated to strengthening local communities, creating opportunities and tackling issues of disadvantage and exclusion.

Community Investment Coalition (CIC) campaigns to increase access to affordable finance for all communities. CIC campaigns for more innovation in the financial services sector so that affordable financial products are delivered accessibly to all communities and sustainable local economic growth with a greater share of locally generated income remaining within communities.

Co-operative Enterprise Hub provides support, advice and training to new and established Co-operatives throughout the UK.

Creative United provides a programme that helps creative sector organisations access business support and finance in order to grow their business and make a positive impact on their local community.

Inspire2Enterprise providing a unique free-to-access social enterprise support, information and advice service - from start-up through to initial growth and beyond. 

HACT develops innovative partnerships between housing associations and responsible finance providers,extending the Start Up Loans programme to more communities and supporting more new businesses.

Locality is the leading nationwide network for community-led organisations. Every community is a place of possibility.

South East Co-operative Support (SECS) provides specialist support to co-operatives & social enterprises across the South East of England. provides a marketplace for community shares showcasing the widest range of live Community Share Offers in the UK. This independent, co-operatively owned market place is for shares in Industrial and Provident Societies, not sponsored by or part of any government initiative.

Small Charities Coalition provides information on resources and funding available for charities.

The Young Foundation Harness the power of social innovation to tackle the root causes of inequality. They work with the public and private sectors and civil society to empower people to lead happier and more meaningful lives. They enable others to innovate for large scale impact through designing programmes, coaching leaders and engaging communities.

Award Programmes

Citi Foundation Micro-entrepreneurship Awards is a celebration of responsible finance providers and the entrepreneurs they support.

Enactus is an internationalnon-profit organisation that works with leaders in business and highereducation to mobilize university students to make a difference in theircommunities whilst developing the skills to become socially responsiblebusiness leaders.

Un Ltd This competitive awards programme supports Social Entrepreneurs.