Frequently asked questions | Big Society Capital

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Frequently asked questions

I already have a great idea, how do I apply?

Great! We are delighted to work with companies who have already begun to develop business ideas which align with the Business Impact Challenge. Submit your Expression of Interest or contact Claire Kearney or Georgina Smee for more information.

I have a great idea that needs further work. Should I still apply?

We are interested in hearing all viable business ideas that address a social need. For the initial expression of interest we do not expect a fully developed business plan, but are looking for a genuine and ongoing commitment to work with us to bring your idea to reality.

Is there a minimum investment amount?

Yes. We ask that each company submitting an application commits a minimum of £1 million in investment, which will be matched by Big Society Capital if the idea is approved by the Big Society Capital investment committee in the final stage of the Business Impact Challenge. Higher preference will be given to proposals from companies that commit to more investment than the minimum.

I am a charity or a social enterprise, can I apply?

Yes, in a partnership. Partnerships between charities or social enterprises and corporates are encouraged and welcome to apply. The corporate partner in any such partnership should lead and submit the application to the Business Impact Challenge.

What support do you provide?

As part of the due diligence process, Big Society Capital will work closely with applicants through the design, structuring and delivery of their social investment ideas.

A boot camp for shortlisted applicants will focus on developing ideas and be tailored based on the proposals submitted. Further introductions will be made to any potential partners. Following this will be the opportunity to present to an expert business panel that will provide on the spot feedback.

Ongoing support will be provided to any investments made via the Business Impact Challenge.

How much time will the Business Impact Challenge require?

It depends. Developing robust investment ideas that are aligned with a company’s core strategy requires a significant commitment of resources. The Business Impact Challenge sets a timeframe of 11+ months to develop ideas into investable proposals.  As ideas progress through each stage, the investment team at Big Society Capital provides dedicated support to help structure and stress test ideas.  So while there are set milestones, the Business Impact Challenge can flex to accommodate internal company requirements, e.g. securing senior level buy-in or approval.  Our team can move as swiftly as required to help launch the most promising social investments.

Will you just invest in one “winner”?

No. Our aim is to support as many companies as we can through the design, structuring and delivery of their social investment ideas. The expert business panel and investment committee of Big Society Capital have discretion to select one or more ideas for investment.

Will you invest directly into my company?

No. The Business Impact Challenge will only invest in standalone programmes that have a clear social objective. This can be via a fund or a joint venture set up as a special purpose vehicle. Big Society Capital will help you structure your investment.

I am a company with an idea but want to hear more from experts working in the social sector who have first-hand experience. Can you help?

Yes. Please get in touch with Claire Kearney or Georgina Smee.

I work for a multinational corporation that might be interested in social investment in areas outside the UK – are these ideas eligible?

Yes. The Business Impact Challenge welcomes applications from a wide spectrum of companies – from UK-based SMEs to large worldwide organisations.  Ideas may be designed to generate positive social outcomes anywhere in the world, as long as the UK is one of those areas.  Any company submitting an application should be prepared to commit additional investment for areas outside the UK - Big Society Capital’s investment committee is only authorised to approve matched investment for UK focused activities.

The submission criteria require metrics for measuring and monitoring social outcomes – can you help?

Yes. Our Outcomes Matrix on the Good Finance website is a great starting point.  If you still have questions after reading, please get in touch with Claire Kearney or Georgina Smee.