The Growth Fund

Simple, suitable, smaller sized finance.

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Repayable finance of up to £150,000 for charities and social enterprises

The Growth Fund is being delivered through social investors: charities and social enterprises must apply to social investors to secure Growth Fund support, not directly to Access.  All 16 funds are now launched.  

You can find a full list of the Growth Fund Investors here.

You can also visit Good Finance for further information about accessing social investment and a directory of social investors 

The Growth Fund is now closed to new expressions of interest from social investors.


What is the Growth Fund? 

The Growth Fund is a partnership between the National Lottery Community Fund, Big Society Capital and Access and is designed to provide the finance that charities and social enterprises need for growth or diversifying their business models. The fund is aimed at organisations which are unlikely to have taken on social investment before.

The finance offered is principally in the form of small, flexible, unsecured loans, to organisations seeking to use the funds to create more social impact. Those social investors delivering the Growth Fund can offer charities and social enterprises up to £150,000 of flexible finance by combining grants with loans into simple products.

Typically, this type of finance has not been readily available. This is often because social investors consider such finance to be high risk and therefore charities and social enterprises find it unaffordable, or the finance needs to be of a larger minimum size to cover deal costs which is too big for an organisation’s stage of development.

The specific model of the Growth Fund, which blends grant funds from the National Lottery Community Fund and investment capital from Big Society Capital and makes this blend available to organisations who want to on-lend to charities and social enterprises, is designed to overcome these barriers.  

The early evidence from the Growth Fund suggests that the blend of finance is helping to address the well evidenced gap for smaller, unsecured lending, and reaching organisations who may not have benefited from social investment before. A significant amount of learning will also emerge from the funds over the next few years, especially around how subsidy can help increase the supply of appropriate social investment.

To view the latest data from the Growth Fund you can visit our Quarterly Dashboards

For more information about the detail of the structure of the Growth Fund and our historic guidance on the application process for social investors, you can read the detailed guides listed below. The Growth Fund is now almost fully committed and is closed to new expressions of interest from social investors. 


Managing the Growth Fund portfolio 

Although the Growth Fund is almost fully committed to social investors, their work in making loans available to charities and social enterprises is still in an early stage. We expect loans to be made through to the early 2020s and late 2019 will see the peak of lending activity for those funds. 

When fully committed, the Growth Fund portfolio will comprise around 15-18 social investment funds. 

Our priorities in managing the Growth Fund portfolio are:

  • To support the social investors who are delivering the Growth Fund through building an active peer community within and beyond the Growth Fund itself. We will encourage the sharing of best practice and learning, and where Access can add value we will seek to put in place shared solutions.
  • To continue to seek to simplify the process for our social investors and in particular the charities and social enterprises who receive loans from the Growth Fund. We recognise that blending finance from different sources, each with their own constraints, is complex. Our goal is to absorb as much of that complexity as possible. We will continue to invite and respond to feedback on how this can best be done.
  • Gather as much evidence as possible from the programme and share that learning widely. There are a range of hypotheses which the Growth Fund is testing and we have made good progress in putting in place the right processes to answer these questions. 
    These include: where are subsidies best used, to what extent has the Growth Fund changed behaviours within the social investors and increased the incentives for them to raise this sort of investment in the future, and to what extent has the Growth Fund made social investment more attractive for charities and social enterprises.

We will work closely with our funding partners, the National Lottery Community Fund and Big Society Capital, the programme’s evaluators and our own learning partners to gather rich meaningful data and learning, while ever being mindful of the burden which data collection places on the Social Investors and charities and social enterprises.

The Growth Fund portfolio is overseen by the Joint Investment Committee. The committee meets every quarter, and delegates decisions between meetings to a Growth Fund management group which comprises representatives from each of the Growth Fund partners. 

The JIC comprises two representatives from each of the partner organisations, Big Society Capital, National Lottery Community Fund and two representatives from Access. It is chaired by Access.
The current membership of the Joint Investment Committee is:

  • Chair: Nick Hurd (Access)
  • For Access: Seb Elsworth, Neil Berry
  • For the National Lottery Community Fund:  Kevin Bone and Elle De Decker
  • For Big Society Capital: Jeremy Rogers, Rebecca MacDonald

You can view the terms of reference of the Joint Investment Committee here. 

You can view the summary investment policy as agreed by the Joint Investment Committee here. 

You can view the conflicts of interest policy here.

You can read the Growth Fund’s Privacy Policy here.