Navigating the Growth Fund process – how hopefully we are making that easier!

A few weeks ago, Seb posted a blog reflecting on what we have learned and how we are seeking to improve, following the announcement of our first Growth Fund investment into Resonance. He mentioned that based on this learning, we have published updated guidance on the whole Growth Fund process, a revised expression of interest form which better captures what we need to know at the early stage of an application, and a revised Business Plan template which is sent to those we invite to apply and which builds on the previous application form.

This is something I have personally been working on for the past few months and I wanted to expand slightly on why we have made these changes and how we hope they will improve the experience of all those involved in the process of applying for funds from the Growth Fund.

Firstly, we wanted to make sure that the two main documents that social investors needed to complete (the expression of interest form (EOI) and the Business Plan) were fit for purpose, easy to follow and would ultimately result in the most useful information being available for the JIC. This is crucial as it helps us to better consider an application, and also for the social investor to gain a better understanding of what information we consider important and gain even more of an insight into the priorities of the Growth Fund. We are hoping that the revised documents give applicants more flexibility in how they present their proposal rather than being too prescriptive both in format and content.

To accompany these revised documents, we’ve also produced guidance to provide an overview of each document, what to expect when completing each one, its place in the overall process, what makes for a compelling proposal and more. This guidance is available on our website and can be found here for the EOI and here for the Business Plan.

Of course, following the completion of these documents, there is still some way to go in the process, and our previous guidance didn’t sufficiently cover the next few stages of the process. Now that several organisations are working through the process we have learned more about how it can work better and we can be more realistic about setting expectations of what is involved from a social investor going through the process. We have therefore produced two new additional pieces of guidance, both now available on our website.

The first covers the Due Diligence process – this is the next step once the Business Plan has been approved by the Joint Investment Committee in the initial round. Due Diligence can sound like a daunting process and we are hopeful that our guidance provides a clearer idea of what a social investor can expect, both in terms of what to prepare and an idea of timings.

Once Due Diligence is completed and the JIC approves the final proposal, the execution process begins. It is here that we’ve been spending much of our time with the first few social investors we’ve been working with to turn the proposals into reality, and again, a huge thank you to Resonance for being the first through this process. We’ve now prepared a guidance document on what to expect during this phase and an overview of the legal documents which need to be signed between all the relevant parties. We are hopeful it will be useful in giving social investors either going through the process or thinking of applying, a better idea of what to expect! This guidance can be found here.

Finally, we’ve prepared an overview of the Growth Fund for all social investors who are considering applying which provides a summary of how the Growth Fund works in one useful document.

You may wonder why I, as the Finance and Operations Manager, have been working on this guidance, rather than Simon or Seb, who are involved in the Growth Fund in far greater detail on a day to day basis than I am! This was on purpose – we wanted to make sure the guidance was written in the most accessible way, so that you didn’t need to be an expert in blended finance funds to understand it and sometimes a fresh pair of eyes is helpful in achieving that. I will let you be the judge of whether we achieved that and as always, we would value any feedback you might have. No doubt these documents will evolve as our experience and understanding of the needs of all parties does too, but for now, we hope you find them helpful!