Social lender SIS receives top marks for year-end stats

Social Investment Scotland (SIS), the lender to the third sector, has delivered another year of investment growth and financial progress, aided by its partnership with one of Britain's biggest supermarket chains.

SIS chairman Nick Kuenssberg. Picture: Ian Rutherford
SIS chairman Nick Kuenssberg. Picture: Ian Rutherford

End-of-year figures published this week will show that SIS invested more than £4.3 million in more than 50 organisations throughout Scotland.

The figure includes £1.8m from SIS Community Finance in 24 projects, some £900,000 from the Social Growth Fund across three projects and a further £1.6m from other third-party funds managed by SIS.

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What is classed as “total unrestricted income”, including lending operations, management fees, transfers and grants, amounted to just over £1.3m, up 13 per cent from the previous year.

The increase was underpinned by the loan book growth and additional management fees generated from an extended partnership with Asda, the grocery giant owned by US-based Walmart.

This tie-up has seen the expansion of Asda Community Capital, a fund set up by SIS to utilise the charitable funds raised from the single use carrier bag levy.

Using 100 per cent of proceeds, compared to just 50 per cent in the prior year, these funds support a small loans programme and the running of Asda’s dedicated “supplier development academy”, which provides opportunities for social enterprises, based in Scotland and Wales, to reach the supermarket shelves.

SIS chairman Nick Kuenssberg said: “Social Investment Scotland has delivered another year of significant development in financial, social impact, and corporate governance terms, firmly establishing itself as Scotland’s, and one of the UK’s, leading responsible finance providers.

“Our success has been such that we have outgrown the five-year strategy outlined 2013 and launched a new, more ambitious strategy to be delivered by 2020.

“Based on a year of major achievements, continually growing investments and financial success, SIS can look forward with confidence to the implementation of this new strategy.

“At its heart is an ambition to extend the remit of SIS to include hybrid models of social enterprise incorporating both financial and social objectives, stimulating the creation and growth of social enterprise and working with and supporting young social entrepreneurs.”

Alastair Davis, chief executive of SIS, added: “Despite another year of economic volatility, we have seen both a sustained demand for social investment and a growth in supply of investment capital from a range of sources.”

Highlights for the lender during 2015/2016 included the launch of and full investment of SIS Community Capital – the first social interest tax relief fund in UK – and further development of the Social Growth Fund in partnership with Big Society Capital and the Scottish Government.