Scope to invest in start-up scheme for social enterprises

09 Feb 2018 News

Scope will invest £375,000 in a new scheme to support start-up businesses which provide employment solutions for disabled people.

This comes as part of Scope's new strategy to provide services, information, advice and support to two million disabled people by 2022. 

At the end of last year Scope announced it would transfer 51 services to a private healhcare provider as part of its plan to reduce direct service provision and focus on activities to bring about societal change.

Three-way partnership

The charity is one of three co-funders supporting Thrive, a funding and support programme launched by foundation for social entrepreneurs Unltd.

Through the programme, Unltd will offer six months of intensive support and the option to apply for funding through the Thrive Investment Fund.

Unltd, the UK’s foundation for social entrepreneurs, has launched Thrive, a scheme to support and fund 60 social ventures over three years.

Scope will invest £375,000 to support 24 of these social ventures aimed at disabled people over the next three years, while financial services firm UBS will fund 12 ventures in this time and an anonymous family foundation will fund the other 24.

'Turning tradition on its head'

Mark Atkinson, chief executive of Scope, said the charity’s co-funding of Thrive fits into its new strategy to tackle disability unemployment.

He said: “The fact that there are still one million disabled people in Britain who can and want to work but who are being shut out of the workplace because of barriers in the workplace and negative attitudes shows that old approaches to employment just aren’t working.

“That’s why we’re delighted to support new approaches to tackle the issue and ensure that disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else.

“Traditionally, charities are the ones who receive funding to run services. But Scope is turning tradition on its head by investing in a scheme which will provide support directly to ambitious disabled entrepreneurs and social enterprises which will transform disabled people’s lives.”

Repayable finance

The Thrive Investment Fund will offer repayable finance to each social venture to facilitate growth. Investment will be offered to the ventures after six months of support to help them build their financial health and operational capacity.

The decision about who to fund, how much and what terms will be made by the investment panel and ventures team. The investment panel will include partners, funders and other key stakeholders.

The funding amounts will vary between £25,000 and £50,000. Where possible, this capital will be used to leverage further external investment.

Mark Norbury, UnLtd chief executive, said: “Access to meaningful employment is a vital part of our society becoming fairer and more dynamic. Social ventures have shown that they are ideally placed to offer innovative and effective employment solutions.

“Thrive’s distinctive blend of tailored expertise and affordable finance will help these ventures maximise their potential social impact. We will combine this impact with our partners’ expertise and influence, research, policy work and campaigns to bring about systemic change.”

Applications to Thrive are now open. More details are available here.

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