£100m Access Foundation outlines plans to fund growth of social investment

04 Feb 2015 News

The new £100m government-backed Access Foundation has outlined a funding strategy to grow social investment, and has started recruitment for a new chief executive.

The new £100m government-backed Access Foundation has outlined a funding strategy to grow social investment, and has started recruitment for a new chief executive.

The organisation, officially named Access – The Foundation for Social Investment, was first announced in December by Rob Wilson, minister for civil society.

At the time of the launch, Wilson said the then-unnamed foundation would have “more than £100m” to grow charities’ abilities to win contracts and take on social investment, and has been established to fill gaps in the social investment market. 

The foundation will be established by the Big Society Trust, the parent organisation of Big Society Capital, the £600m wholesaler set up to grow the social investment market. It will be funded with £60m repaid from the Futurebuilders loan fund, and Wilson said more funding will come from the Big Lottery Fund. BIG has refused to confirm whether it will provide funding.

The foundation has now outlined plans to recruit its first chief executive, with a salary of £80,000, and has outlined three funding strands to grow social investment.

The foundation will work with Big Society Capital to set up a "blended capital" facility for other lenders to access.

Blended capital involves charities and social enterprises receiving a mixture of grant and loan funding. BSC has said blended capital is essential to fund very small organisations to take investment, because it is too expensive to make small loans to such organisations. However BSC itself is not able to give grants.

The foundation will also grant fund capacity building in the sector and the creation of an infrastructure around the social investment market.

The foundation appointed John Kingston (pictured) as its chair at the end of last year.

Kingston was previously the founder and director of the Charities Aid Foundation’s social investment fund CAF Venturesome, and is a board member of social investment wholesaler Big Society Capital.

Kingston will chair a board comprised of:

  • Arvinda Gohil, chief executive of Emmaus UK
  • Alistair Wilson, chief executive of the School for Social Entrepreneurs
  • David Curtis, chief operating officer of Wakelet
  • Annika Small, chief executive of Nominet Trust
  • James Perry, chief executive of Panahpur Foundation
  • Victoria Hornby, director of grants and evaluation for the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry
  • Steve Wyler, former chief executive of Locality.

Kingston said the foundation will start work in “listening mode”.

“We are seeking to hear views of critical support needs from a wide range of organisations in the social sector." he said, "especially those who have not yet taken on repayable finance but are considering whether to do so in order to achieve more social impact in their work.”

The foundation will have “access to significant resources and will play a central role in the development of the social investment market over the next 10-15 years”, according to an appointment brief for its new chief executive.

The brief added that there remains some uncertainty around the sources and volume of capital the foundation will have available at start up.

More information about the fund is expected to be available on its launch.