Community Investment Enterprise Facility

Providing debt finance to Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs).

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The challenge

Many small businesses across the UK are unable to access mainstream finance. While they can access finance from socially motivated lenders such as Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs), the CDFIs themselves face barriers to achieving long-term sustainability and securing capital at scale to meet the demand of small businesses.

Our approach

We established the Community Investment Enterprise Facility (CIEF) to provide CDFIs with the capital they need to meet demand, and to help increase understanding of the financial and social impact of CDFI lending, to attract other mission-driven investors to help achieve growth and long-term stability.

The facility

This Facility provided capital for four Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs) to help them lend to small businesses operating in disadvantaged areas.

Small businesses are essential to their local communities, providing both jobs and economic activity. As many are unable to access mainstream finance to grow their business, support from CDFIs plays an important role.

A long-term financial, social and economic evaluation of the facility will be carried out by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam.

In April 2020, the Community Enterprise Investment Facility was adapted as part of Big Society Capital’s response to the coronavirus pandemic to ensure it could access the Government-based Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, meaning CDFI’s could provide smaller, emergency loans on a no fee, no interest basis for 12 months for underserved businesses affected by covid-19.

The fund is fully deployed and now closed.

  • Fund size

    £60 million
  • Big Society Capital commitment

    £30 million

Key information

  • Geography

    UK wide
  • Investment type

    Enterprise debt
  • Fund manager

    Social Investment Scotland
  • Investment status

  • Investment date

  • Term

    8.5 years


  • 3

    Number of CDFIs supported

  • 111

    Number of small businesses supported

  • £15m

    Total capital raised alongside into CDFIs

Sustainable development goals

  • 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable