Since 2015 Access has committed the vast majority of the Growth Fund, a blended capital programme for social investors to enable them to offer small scale unsecured finance to charities and social enterprises around England. 11 loan funds have already been launched through the scheme and we closed to new expressions of interest in December 2017. The final 15% of the fund will be committed by mid-2018.
The loan funds which the Growth Fund has invested in will be offering loans to charities and social enterprises until the early 2020s, with peak distribution of loans to the sector in 2019.
The social investors in the Growth Fund portfolio will continue to play a critical role in the provision of finance to the social sector for several years to come.
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 Big Lottery 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.