A year ago, we launched Ideas for Impact, a call for ideas with the potential to turn into impact funds. We selected seven ideas to support, either because they are tackling a social issue needing continued innovation (e.g. diversity in social entrepreneurship/investment) or because the fund used a new finance solution (e.g. shared upside between fund manager and charity). These received a combination of development funding and/or support from our team.
What were the ideas and where have they got to now?
Tackling youth unemployment
Social businesses Catch22 and Hatch Enterprise partnered with socially motivated investor Social Tech Trust to tackle youth unemployment. The aim is to support the most promising tech ventures in this space to grow their impact and revenue by accessing public sector contracting opportunities, whilst in turn bringing innovation to public service delivery.
The team is planning a pilot fund and accelerator programme to build some further proof points. Please get in touch if you would like to hear more about the idea.
Refurbishing homes for homelessness charities
Social enterprise,Cornerstone Place, hoped to create a new fund that will support the development or refurbishment of properties to rent to homelessness charities. The fund plans to take on the development risk on properties and use an innovative revenue sharing model.
The Ideas for Impact funding has helped Cornerstone Place grow its pipeline of deals and make substantial progress with the complex legal structures involved with creating a fund. It will continue to develop the pipeline and plans to launch the fund within the next 12 months.
"We view having a fund to support our projects as a key strategic component of the business as we seek to grow our impact across multiple communities. The team at Big Society Capital have been extremely supportive and knowledgeable particularly as this is a new area for us, helping us to shape our thoughts, introducing us to potential investors, and providing technical and legal guidance." David Ball Co-Founder, Cornerstone Place
Creating affordable housing using church-owned land
North East Churches Acting Together explored ways in which church owned land and buildings for affordable and assisted housing could be unlocked.
The project identified nine potential sites in the North East and carried out a feasibility study to establish whether any of them might be suitable for an initial pilot scheme. The process of engaging and utilising the land has proven to be more time consuming than expected but the project has been able to identify key issues and possible barriers. The next phase of work will both link in with the broader, national housing initiative from the Church of England, the ‘Coming Home’ report and look for further opportunities and partnership links in the North East.
Addressing workplace inequalities
The Resolution Foundation is working with partners to develop a potential future fund that will support WorkerTech ventures in the UK to improve low-paid and precarious work.
“Part of the usefulness of the Ideas for Impact scheme is that Big Society Capital knows what sort of training or expertise is relevant better than we do! If it relied on us asking for help and input alone, I don't think we would have asked for half of the things that have been useful to date.” Louise Marston, Director of Ventures, Resolution Foundation
Supporting frontline organisations through the recovery
Many social and community enterprises across the UK are set to lose the properties they own as a result of the pandemic. Fund manager, Resonance, wanted to tackle this, through scoping the appetite and market for a distressed assets fund that looks to purchase properties and lease them back to social and community enterprises on an initial rent-free basis to support their recovery.
Resonance continues to support social purpose organisations and is shaping its response to their needs as it learns more from survey and case study work. It is also exploring how property finance could best strengthen the resilience of social purpose organisations as they deliver their services.
Growing a circular economy
Social investment consultancy organisation, Social Finance, tested the feasibility of a circular economy outcomes fund, in partnership with ReLondon (previously London Waste and Recycling Board). It aimed to grow the circular economy, fund outcomes such as reduction of waste and CO2 emissions, and support purpose-led organisations with a circular mission at their heart.
The feasibility study has shown promising results and a strong interest from circular economy businesses, local authorities and investors, in the circular economy outcome fund model. ReLondon is now actively looking for an anchor grant funder that would help leverage outcome funding and investment from impact investors to kickstart the fund.
New tool for measuring diversity, equity and inclusion
Social enterprise support organisation, UnLtd, worked together with social investor, Big Issue Invest, to build an online tool for social enterprises to understand and improve their diversity, equity and inclusion practices and policies.
The team have developed a literature review and beta version of the diversity, equity and inclusion toolkit in partnership with a diverse range of advisory groups and partners. They have entered the testing phase with social purpose organisations and the toolkit launch is planned for April/May-22.
Since launching the Ideas for Impact programme, we have been struck not only by the potential that innovation has in developing new solutions to pressing social challenges but also the time and resource it takes to launch new impact funds. We are continuing to support the seven ideas shortlisted through our programme and are always looking at ways in which we can help them develop their ideas further. In addition, we are examining how we can build on our innovation work outside of this programme and plan to talk more about this over the coming year.