Over £5m has been invested into helping social enterprises in the West Midlands grow it has been revealed.
More than 150 delegates at Social Enterprise West Midlands’ Social Finance Fair heard how a series of new social finance opportunities and greater education on raising investment has helped boost the fortunes of organisations delivering anything from vital community services and skills to the unemployed, to catering services and precision components.
Big Society Capital, Social Investment Business and the Key Fund have all contributed to unlocking finance, with the latter channeling nearly £1m into 16 social enterprises across the region – successfully meeting the target it set itself at last year’s event.
Keynote speaker Kieron Boyle, Head of Social Investment at the Cabinet Office, welcomed the backing but warned that more support is needed to make sure the sector continues to develop.
“Social enterprises and charities have a vital role to play in delivering services and products within our communities,” explained Kieron Boyle.
He continued: “Whilst social investment may not be suitable for all enterprises, there are many more who could benefit than are currently doing so. That’s why this Social Finance Fair is so important, bringing social lenders from around the UK together with experts, who can help prepare organisations for securing and then making the most of the investment.
“There are important developments taking place all the time, with new angel investor networks, a social investment tax relief and the introduction of Access, the new social investment foundation.”
Held at the BVSC Conference Rooms in Birmingham, the Social Finance Fair is now in its 5th year and is the largest event of its kind outside of London.
The conference was designed to connect social enterprises and businesses with investors to stimulate real opportunities and assist with innovation, sustainability and growth.
In addition to the keynote speeches, there were a number of masterclass workshops covering topics, such as crowdfunding, community shares and Social Investment Tax Relief.
A number of local social enterprises were also invited to present their own stories, providing delegates with a ‘warts and all’ take on their finance journeys.
Sallie Ryan, Partnerships Manager at Social Enterprise West Midlands, added: “We work with over 500 members in the region and the most pressing issue continues to be access to finance. Social enterprises are ambitious and want to grow.
“It is fantastic to hear how much money has been spent locally, but I’m sure we can leverage even more investment once our organisations know what is available and what they need to do in order to secure the finance.
“Engage, inspire and connect were the three main themes of the conference and from the size of our audience and the feedback we’ve received, I’m sure we’ve more than achieved that.”
SEWM, which is now part of Social Enterprise UK, has been supported by a number of key sponsors who have helped organise the Social Finance Fair.
This includes Big Society Capital, the Key Fund, PwC, Unity Trust Bank, Blue Sky, Charity Bank, FSE Group, Cogent Ventures and BCRS Business Loans.
For further information, please visit www.socialenterprisewm.org.uk or follow @_sewm on twitter.