Social investment

Alongside our grant funding we provide social investment in the form of different types of repayable finance to charities and other not-for-profit organisations with the aim of creating social impact. Social investment is a different way of funding charitable activities. 

Since 2008 we have made over 109 social investments. We can commit up to £35m in social investments. We invest in a diverse range of organisations including charities, social enterprises, community benefit societies and other social investment funds.

How does it work?

Social investment is based on two key principles;

Social Investment Jargon Buster

1. Social return – the investment helps to generate social impact and positive outcomes for people, communities or the environment.

2. Financial return – the organisation receiving the investment (a loan for example) will be able to generate sufficient income from its activities, goods or services to cover its costs and repay the funding over time.

Minimum size of investment is £100,000

We are an impact first investor, this means the social investments we make aim to achieve a high social impact as well as a financial return and be a good fit with our funding priorities.

Our social investments take a variety of forms, we work with an organisation to assess its business model and the type of finance needed to support the work in order to structure an appropriate investment. We do not have set interest rates or repayment terms; it all depends on the type of investment, what the organisation is aiming to achieve and what the social impact is likely to be.

We support both revenue and capital projects with social investment

Our social investments include loans, charity bonds, equity, revenue participation agreements and Social Impact Bonds (SIBs). Our Jargon Buster explains these different types of investments in more detail.

How to apply for social investment

What are we looking for? Quick 1 page guide

If you are thinking about applying for a social investment you can submit a first stage application or if you have an idea you would like to discuss with a member of our team before you apply please email us at info@esmeefairbairn.org.uk
For information on the differences between our grant funding exclusions and social investment exclusions or if you have any questions, you may find our FAQ’s helpful as a starting point. 

Other social investment funds
To find out more about social investment including some of the other investors available you may find the following links helpful as a starting point –

Featured Investments

Live Theatre

Live Theatre is a 200 seat theatre based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne; it specialises in showcasing new productions and supporting new and emerging artists. Alongside the theatre, Live has a range of social enterprise initiatives, the profits of which are invested back into the work of the theatre. We provided Live Theatre with a loan of £140,000 towards the cost of refurbishing the Broad Chare gastro pub and develop an online playwriting course.

 

 

B4RN - Broadband for the Rural North

B4RN is a volunteer-led, community-owned organisation that provides broadband infrastructure and services to isolated communities in rural Lancashire. Much of its area of operations has poor or no broadband. We provided B4RN with a loan of £300,000 in 2014. B4RN has used the money to recruit paid staff and pay for materials needed to expand its services to new rural communities. If B4RN had relied on just its income generation and profits to do this, its growth would have been limited and much slower. The loan has enabled B4RN to expand from 400 homes to 1,000 homes in one year rather than over a number of years. 

 

Essex Social Impact Bond for children at the edge of care

We invested £400,000 towards a five year Multi-Systemic Therapy programme (a whole family-focused intervention). The programme is delivered by Action for Children and supports children and young people at risk of entering into care so they can remain at home with their families. The programme hopes to divert at least 100 children from entering care. Outcomes are measured by a reduction in the number of days children spend in care, school attendance, improved wellbeing and reduced reoffending.

 

 

Woodland Trust - Fingle Woods Land Purchase

Through our special land purchase facility we purchased Fingle Woods in 2013 for £845,000. The land has high conservation value and The Woodland Trust raised the money to purchase the land from us in 2014. The Woodland Trust is restoring the 214 hectares of formerly ancient woodland by clearing planted conifers and replacing them with native tree species.

 

 

 

Y:Cube YMCA South West London

Y:Cube is a 36 unit modular housing development providing affordable move-on accommodation for people living in hostel accommodation. Y:Cube used ‘Homeshell’ housing technology where the units are built off-site reducing construction time and costs. We provided a loan of £500,000 alongside three other social investors.

 

 

 

Bristol Together

Bristol Together is a social enterprise that buys and refurbishes properties employing ex-offenders to help carry out the renovation work. We invested £550,000 in a five year bond in 2011. The organisation works with men leaving prison providing employment, training and support as they move on with their lives and reintegrate back into society.