Making Finance More Social - Access to Finance

As part of the FSE Group's Festival of Funding, we will be hosting an event in co-ordination with Big Society Capital on the 23rd February, click here to find out more. This is part of a renewed drive to explore the contribution of social enterprise and how the LEP can support its growth. The event is open to all and isn’t restricted to businesses in the Black Country LEP area.

The FSE Group are hosting a series of online business skills and funding workshops throughout February and March, focusing on inclusivity and diversity. If you are a passionate entrepreneur from a group you feel is under-represented, these workshops could be a great place for you to speak to real people who can help you to achieve your goals.

Melanie Mills, Senior Director at Big Society Capital, recently wrote an expert guest blog for us on the topic of making finance more social:

Keep it simple

As someone who is not from a finance background working in the field of social investment has been a steep learning curve. I may not have understood financial terminology, but I did understand business. As a passionate supporter of social enterprises and charities I have made it my personal challenge to ensure that repayable finance is better understood so that organisations who trade for ‘more’ than profit can consider if investment is right for them alongside grants, donations and of course professional support.

Levelling up

Charities and social enterprises by their very make up are more diverse. 40% are led by women, 35% by leaders of colour and almost a quarter are based in those areas of facing the most economic disadvantage and they are informed by and are serving their communities. More needs to be done to level up the playing field across the social sector, we are definitely ‘not there yet’ however and in contrast to the financial sector or big business for example; for social enterprises and charities this is an integral part of their business model and not an optional extra so we are definitely leading the charge for change. Entrepreneurs from across the UK whatever their governance structure need: easy, simple and inclusive signposting and support. For big business and small business, local or national, for profit or not for profit. What unites us in economic and social contribution – inclusive growth.  This is one of the reasons that working with Local Enterprise Growth Hubs and professional partners like accountants, lawyers and funders to make sure that those seeking support have access to the full range of support both mainstream and specialist like that provided by Good Finance.

Not just for the usual suspects

One of the uncomfortable spotlights that the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted is the disproportionate impact experienced by racialised and marginalised communities from health to accessing finance and support. What this has led to is an impatience for change, a collective intolerance. This has accelerated many of us in organisations across the UK to move talking into challenging and uncomfortable situations ultimately taking action.

On a personal note, I was inspired by listening to Charles Kwaku-Odoi at an event we ran during the summer.

His words act as a consistent reminder to stop talking and start doing and to get outside my usual networks and to ensure we are having the right conversations in the right places. To do this we have launched a new Addressing Imbalance programme seeking partners we can work with to guide us so we can ensure we are in the right places.

I will finish by saying we need to ensure finance is accessible, not intimidating. That it serves all types of businesses and that we give every enterprise the best chance to #BuildBackBetter.

If you are interested to hear more about this topic join our Making Finance More Social Event Webinar on the 23rd February from 3pm, click here to register

You can also find the other events which are part of The FSE Group's Festival of Funding at our events page here.