BLOG: Why we're an Access Point

5 January 2017
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Northstar Ventures is one of the first cohort of Access Points. They explain why they wanted to get involved with the Reach Fund.

As a social investor, we meet charities and social enterprises at various stages in their ‘investment readiness’ journey. Whilst it might be nice for every organisation we meet to come to our first meeting with a polished idea, detailed financial forecasts and everything in place ready to go, it doesn’t always work like that.

For many of the organisations we work with, social investment is only part of the approach the charity is taking to ensure its long-term sustainability. This means that there may still be things that need clarifying, or areas in which they need additional support, before they are ready to take on repayable finance.

Our approach to social investment already means working in partnership with VCSEs in the North East, to overcome any challenges together before an investment takes place. By becoming an Access Point for the Reach Fund, we feel we’re now able to provide an even greater level of support to the organisations that need it.

One of the things we pride ourselves on is that we never encourage an organisation to take on social investment if it isn’t right for them. This might mean signposting them to another source of finance (such as their high street bank) or it might mean looking at what additional support is available to them.

We already work closely with the Fresh Ideas Fund for organisations exploring new ideas, and Big Potential for those needing investment readiness support. But for those organisations that are ‘almost ready’ to take on investment, we felt there was a gap for a timely, specific support programme we could recommend. The Reach Fund feels like the answer to this.

We hope that as an Access Point, when we meet a charity or social enterprise that is ready for social investment barring a small, specific piece of work, we will be able to support their application to the Reach Fund so they can complete the work quickly and move forward with their plans. The organisation benefits and the North East benefits from the social impact the charity is delivering.

Peter Gilson is Investment Manager at Northstar Ventures

Twitter: @NVSocialFund