£5m fund launched to help community-minded organisations reach net zero

Social Investment Scotland (SIS), in partnership with Zero Waste Scotland, has unveiled a £5 million fund to help social enterprises and the wider third sector move to carbon net zero.

The Social Enterprise Net Zero Transition Fund is described as having been created to support such organisations, including charities and others working in the community, as they transition to carbon neutrality through activities including waste-reduction, energy-consumption, transitioning to sustainable transport options, and the adoption of circular economy business models.

The fund will be managed by SIS, and will provide loans starting from £10,000, while sums of up to £20,000 may be available, as part of a blended loan and grant offer, to organisations with a particular focus on circular economy projects that deliver new or additional re-use, repair, or leasing/sharing activity, resulting in positive carbon benefits.

Additionally, the initiative is part of the Scottish Government’s £30 million Third Sector Growth Fund, which was announced in March with the aim of helping make waste-minimisation and reuse the first-choice option for the consumer.

Social enterprise/greengrocer Locavore is cited for its aims to be carbon-negative by March 2023. Picture: contributed.

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Chris Jamieson, head of investments at SIS said the social enterprise and third sectors “have a key role to play in ensuring that this transition is fair and just,” because of their ability to deliver social and environmental impact.

"However, their ambitions are often constrained by the limited resources at their disposal. The Social Enterprise Net Zero Transition Fund will provide finance to support these ambitions, helping Scotland’s third sector adopt earth-friendly practices while contributing products and services to address one of society’s biggest challenges.”

Zero Waste Scotland chief executive Iain Gulland said: “To truly end our contribution to the climate crisis we need to tackle overconsumption and switch from a wasteful linear economy to a circular one. Many social enterprises and charities in Scotland are leading the way with imaginative and ground-breaking ways to help us reduce the destructive impact of waste on our planet and meet our net-zero targets.

"But we know financial obstacles can restrict their progress, or sometimes even prevent them from launching at all. Therefore, we’re thrilled to be working with [SIS] to launch the Social Enterprise Net Zero Transition Fund – a way for us to financially nurture, empower, and enable these organisations to thrive as part of a vibrant circular economy.”

Pioneering

Those behind the new fund cited social enterprises and charities in Scotland pursuing a pioneering adoption of circular economy practices and solutions. Among those is Community Transport Glasgow (CTG), a charity that is replacing its entire fleet of diesel minibuses with electric vehicles.

Additionally, Glasgow-based ethical retailer Locavore is billed as embedding circular-economy thinking into every aspect of its operations. The social enterprise greengrocer – which earlier this year secured a major funding boost – offers package-free options, and aims to be carbon-negative by March 2023, through the use of electric delivery vans, use of green energy, and a commitment to waste recycling.

SIS was established in 2001 to provide a new finance model for Scotland’s charities and social enterprises, and it has since invested more than £100 million.

It said in June, for example, that it had partnered with a dozen universities to create a multi-million-pound, spin-out investment fund.

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