Social Finance Fair reveals £1m Key Fund is heading to the West Midlands

Social-Finance-Fair-reveals-£1m-Key-Fund-is-heading-to-the-West-MidlandsA new £1m social investment fund for the West Midlands has been unveiled today at the biggest Social Finance Fair outside London.

More than 140 delegates at the Social Enterprise West Midlands (SEWM) event heard how the ‘Key Fund’ is expanding into the region for the first time and is now looking to provide a crucial finance offer for social organisations that have been turned away from conventional funders.

Chief Executive Officer Sam Tarff outlined his vision for shaping new kinds of industry, from the delivery of public sector services to new IT and digital platforms.

“This is a very exciting move for us, as the West Midlands has always been among the forerunners for social enterprise and we’re delighted to be able to bring our innovative finance offer to the region.“

He continued: “We can support a range of activities, from restoring a derelict building to buying vital equipment or meeting start-up costs, not to mention offering immediate solutions to cash flow problems.

“All we ask is that you share our values. Just as we reinvest our profits back into helping social business, we expect beneficiaries of our finance to have a positive social or environmental impact at the heart of their operations.“

The Key Fund CEO was one of a number of keynote speakers that looked to address the current finance landscape for social enterprises, including The Big Lottery Fund’s Matt Smith, Nick O’Donohoe (Big Society Capital) and Vinay Nair from Social Business Investment.

There was also an address by the recently appointed Minister for Civil Society Rob Wilson MP, who reinforced the Government’s commitment to supporting the sector.

“Social investment has huge potential to enable ambitious charities and social enterprises to do more.“

Rob continued: “Today’s event plays an essential role in ensuring vital information and contacts are passed on to the organisations that will make the best use of them.“

SEWM’s Social Finance Fair, which was held at The Enterprise Foundation Birmingham’s Cobalt Square, hosted a major exhibition of more than 15 finance providers and a Social Food Fair offering anything from macaroons and vegan pastries to hand baked bread.

All of the caterers work with people who often struggle to find employment, including NEETs, those in recovery from drug or alcohol abuse and individuals suffering from poor mental health.

The afternoon session was dedicated to five interactive master class sessions…‘Big Potential’, ‘Quick Guide to Crowdfunding, ‘Making CICs More Attractive to Investors’, ‘Power to Change’ and ‘Attracting Angel Investment’.

“Every year we are seeing new funds and social investment options launched and this can only be good news for the thousands of existing and new social enterprises in the West Midlands”, explained Melanie Mills, Chief Executive of SEWM.

“The idea is to get all of the major players into one room so we can bring the sector up to date with the opportunities available to them. Today alone, we have heard about Social Investment Tax Relief, new angel investment networks and initiatives such as Power to Change.“

She continued: “There was also considerable interest in the arrival of the Key Fund in the West Midlands, which has previously delivered more than £34m of social investment across the North of England.

“It’s now up to our enterprises to get involved, especially those involved in delivering essential digital, education, environmental, health and creative services.“

As part of the event, a special survey was taken on attitudes to social investment and how challenges can be overcome and new opportunities explored. The results will be released shortly by SEWM.