Tag: Supporting social enterprise

£31m added to regional economy thanks to social enterprise

A Yorkshire-based social enterprise has announced it has boosted the region’s economy by £31m in the last 12 months as well increased lending to female entrepreneurs by 9%.

 

The Business Enterprise Fund (BEF), has made the announcement as part of its annual social impact report which also reveals the not-for-profit organisation has loaned a total of £7.08m in the last year, helped to create 175 new UK businesses and generated or safeguarded 820 jobs.

 

Specialising in responsible and flexible finance to businesses making an impact in their communities, 36% of BEF’s loans in the last 12 months were to female-led businesses across West and North Yorkshire and the North East.

 

Steve Waud, chief executive at BEF which is celebrating its 15th anniversary later this year, said: “At BEF we remain dedicated in our role to supporting under-represented yet tenacious SMEs across the North, who don’t necessarily have the same level of investment available to their counterparts in the South.

 

“We are proud that 36% of our loans in the year have been to female entrepreneurs which is higher than the industry average and we’re continuing to promote the support available to help tackle the evident funding gap, which has also recently been highlighted in the Alison Rose Review. The economic impact our lending continues to generate is something we are hugely proud of at BEF.”

 

BEF has made 331 client deals in the last 12 months with the highest number of loans being made to businesses in the manufacturing (25%), business services (18%) and retail (17%) sectors.

 

Shainy Moscovitch and her husband co-founded CP12 Energy, a gas and heating specialist partnering gas safe engineers with domestic and commercial jobs. A £50,000 loan from BEF contributed to creating three new jobs, marketing activity and fitting free carbon dioxide detectors across the North East region.

 

She said: “Most would think the odds are against me. I am a female entrepreneur and I am currently writing this with my one-month old baby beside me. BEF looked past all that and saw the company that I am passionately building. It is their belief in me and CP12 Energy that has given us wings to grow and expand.”

 

Steve said: “As part of our commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs), we continuously aim to empower people from all backgrounds in starting their own businesses with our tailored support and flexible finance solutions.

 

“This year 40% of our lending has been within lower-layer super output areas which is a 6% increase from last year. These individual businesses are in areas which can be excluded from mainstream funding but are often having the highest impact within their communities.”

 

BEF has hired five new employees this year in a bid to provide further support and finance to business owners across the North of England, including the North West. Further to its lending, the social enterprise has supported a range of good causes including its continued work with Bradford charity, One In A Million for which it raised more than £7k in the last year.

 

The Business Enterprise Fund has offices in Leeds, Bradford, Goole and Teesside. For more information please visit www.befund.org

AD:VENTURE funding supports urban farming start-up

Growing Better, the social enterprise that provides urban farming for better mental health, has secured up to £10,000 thanks to the AD:VENTURE ERDF programme, which supports businesses to achieve their full growth potential.

The social enterprise launched in 2016 after recognising the role that urban farming can play in supporting individuals with mental health challenges. Initially relying on polytunnels to grow baby leaf salads leaves and herbs, founder of the business, Rob Moores, quickly realised that the model was unsustainable as winter weather would not provide a commercially sustainable year-round supply to local restaurants and food outlets.

Recognising that an indoor hydroponic vertical farm would provide the year-round production facilities needed, while also allowing for the temperature and conditions to be better controlled, Rob set up a crowd-funding page, securing enough investment to put the theory into practice.

He comments: “The first couple of years were a roller coaster. We’re passionate about better mental health and our research had confirmed the role that growing produce can play in achieving that. Our challenge was growing at a commercially sustainable level all year round in polytunnels – and that made the business very seasonal – which in turn limited the support we could offer people.

“Having thought long and hard we turned to crowd-funding to raise the funds needed to invest in the hydroponic vertical farm but this left us with limited cash-flow. It was effectively one huge step forward but then we were back where we started.”

Rob and his team turned to the practical support, master classes and business sessions that are offered through the AD:VENTURE programme, which in turn provided the advice, guidance and support the company required to put in place a plan that would focus on future growth.

Rob adds: “Accessing practical support from AD:VENTURE allowed us to build up our business plan and in turn to consider other options. We realised that we had the potential, with funding support, to commit to appointing three new members to the team over 2018. This in turn would allow us to support more people and to grow the business using the contributions made by AD:VENTURE as cash flow.

“Knowing that we have a business model in place that we could scale up was great. As well as working with an increasing number of people that have mental health illnesses, we have also started to supply several restaurants, which in turn gives us the funds to put back into the business.

“It’s absolutely fair to say that we wouldn’t be in the position we are today if it had not been for the practical and funding support offered by AD:VENTURE. We would encourage any eligible enterprise to do the same.”

Councillor Mohammed Rafique, Leeds City Council’s executive member for employment, enterprise and opportunity comments: “Growing Better is a great example of a social enterprise that has embraced all that AD:VENTURE has to offer. Accessing the practical support and funding programme we have in place has allowed the business to move forward and that is what we are all about.”

Since the funding was granted, the company has already taken on a new full-time member of staff, expanded its offering to provide growing kits for consumers and has also extended its engagement to work with schools to explain the benefits to home-grown produce without the use of pesticides or chemicals.

A recent public consultation was also held to share future plans to launch a Community Farm at West Leeds Activity Centre in Armley.

For further details about Growing Better please visit the Growing Better website.  For information about the support, advice and funding that is available from AD:VENTURE, please visit our Finance and Funding page.