BLOG: Why I’m excited about The Reach Fund

24 October 2016
People celebrating

Today we have launched the Reach Fund. A brand new investment readiness programme funded by Access – The Foundation for Social Investment. But what is the point of the Reach Fund? And why are we so excited about it. Let me tell you…

The Reach Fund is a major new initiative to support charities and social enterprises to access the investment they need. It will run for two years and offer £4m of grants to organisations who need support to be able to take on a loan. Sound familiar? Not so fast. The Reach Fund is designed to test a new model of investment readiness support.

So, what’s different about it? The main point is that it gives social investors a bigger role in the investment readiness process. Our group of approved social investors - Access Points - will refer charities and social enterprises that they want to invest in, but who are not yet ‘investment ready’, to the programme.

These charities and social enterprises will then work with their Access Point to identify the work they need to do to get ready for investment. There will then be a simple application process for grants of up to £15,000 to pay for the work. We hope this approach will result in a smooth journey for charities and social enterprises who have approached an Access Point as they will have an immediate route to further support at the moment they need it.

The fund has been designed to be intentionally different from other programmes such as Big Potential or the Investment and Contract Readiness Fund. We want to be able to compare different approaches and see what works best.

And that is why I am particularly excited about this fund. At Social Investment Business we have always tested out new models and approaches to see how well they work. From Futurebuilders to the Investment & Contract Readiness Fund these programmes have paved the way for future initiatives that have benefitted from the lessons we learnt along the way.

And I am particularly looking forward to working with Access on this as their approach towards being ‘Accessible’ and sharing what they’re learning is crucial to making this fund work. We will use what we learn to improve the fund as we go along and hone the design.

In phase one we’re going to work with a group of ten Access Points to help us work out the basic design of the fund. Then in early 2017 we plan to open up the fund to more social investors after applying the lessons of phase one. Finally, we will recruit even more Access Points later in 2017 after testing the model in phase two.

We will be blogging about this process on this site so stay tuned for more information. We want to share the lessons we’re learning to help social investors take greater risks, expand their reach, and encourage new organisations to become social investors. It’s an exciting programme and we can’t wait to get started…   

Jonathan Jenkins is Chief Executive of Social Investment Business.