Flexible Finance first development cohort announced

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Access has finalised recruitment into a first development cohort for our new blended finance programme, Flexible Finance for the Recovery.  The £21m funding for the programme comes from a total £30m dormant accounts allocation provided earlier this year to Access, and the Flexible Finance element of that allocation targets the creation of new types of patient and flexible investment to support organisations in a COVID recovery phase.  We have been very encouraged by the level of response to the opportunity that the programme can provide, with many more applications to join the cohort than we had expected. 

The cohort includes nine emerging ideas covering a range of different proposed investment products to meet different financing needs in the future.  All cohort members have demonstrated how they could develop products which meet the key definitions of “patient” and “flexible” which are fundamental to the aims of the new programme.

We sought proposals from investors who felt that they had a good chance of finalising a full investment proposal by March 2021, and all of those selected into the cohort are already progressing their plans.  However all have more work to do in one or more areas, including addressing issues of equality, diversity and inclusion, which the programme is particularly prioritising.

We don’t expect however that all ideas will manage to come forward with viable proposals by that first target date, and we plan to make an announcement before March 2021 about further opportunities for others to submit ideas into the programme.

The nine proposals being worked up are:

Charity Bank  expansion of small, unsecured lending programme with flexible repayment terms complemented by ‘patient capital’ grants

Crowdfunder/Triodos  blended finance solutions combining reward based crowdfunding with crowdfunded equity and debt

Key Fund  a flexible finance facility which will allow investees to draw finance as required, up to a maximum amount, and also repay flexibly when cash is available

Resonance – two proposals   (1) helping communities to own assets and meet local needs, through sustained support (local partnerships and community coordinators) and access to patient and flexible finance (2) a suite of products to facilitate bespoke investment solutions, tailored to individual enterprise growth needs – including equity-like options, flexible loans and grant blend

SASC  providing a blend of grant and loan to small and medium sized non-profits, typically to acquire property or other community assets

Social Tech Trust  quasi-equity (revenue participation) for established but early stage tech for good organisations

Sumerian  provision of quasi-equity alongside pre and post investment business skills support to start-up/growth stage charities and social enterprises

UnLtd/Big Issue Invest  quasi-equity products targeting growth-oriented BAME-led organisations/BAME-founders