£500,000 pot on offer to early-stage social ventures in Scotland

The latest round of a funding scheme to help early-stage social ventures across Scotland opens today with £500,000 of investment up for grabs.

The Power Up Scotland initiative from the Big Issue’s investment arm is looking for 12 enterprises for its latest accelerator programme.

After receiving three months of mentorship from a team of corporate professionals, each social enterprise or charity is invited to pitch to an investment panel for funding.

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Danyal Sattar, chief executive of Big Issue Invest, said: “It’s a tough job starting up a social venture, and early-stage finance is hard to get. We are so pleased to be able to support those organisations with the investment and business-development expertise that they need in order to make an even greater difference within their communities in a post-Covid world.”

Social Stories Club founders Karis Gill (right) and Aayush Goyal have benefited from the support programme. Picture: contributed.

The funding available is to enable organisations to build on their current good work. “Whether it’s buying equipment, hiring new talent, or progressing with business-development plans. Successful applicants will also receive mentoring and business-development support to social ventures for the two-year period,” Big Issue Invest said.

Karis Gill, co-founder of Edinburgh-based Social Stories Club that creates gift boxes and hampers, completed the programme last year and said it had helped take the enterprise to its next stage.

“They have hosted our social enterprise gift boxes in The Big Issue Shop, introduced us to key mentors, and awarded us with a loan, which allowed us to have an enormously successful Christmas season,” she said.

“Big Issue Invest is providing essential support to social enterprises like us and has been enormously flexible around our needs.”

The programme is funded by partners Abrdn, the University of Edinburgh, Experian, Places for People and the Scottish government with legal support from Brodies.

It was launched in November 2017 and has supported 19 social businesses to date with a total of close to £500,000. Big Issue Invest offers loans and investment from £20,000 to £3 million. Since launching in 2005, it has invested in more than 400 organisations. The capital raised comes from mainly private sources and not from sales of the magazine.

Applications for this year’s Power Up Scotland programme are open until September 17.

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