Fund of £650,000 for social businesses in Merseyside

First Ark and Fusion21 are backing the drive to get social enterprises in Merseyside and across the North West, to apply for cash from a new £650,000 fund.

Knowsley-based ‘social impact business’, First Ark, and Liverpool-based Fusion21 are two of the partners behind the Corporate Social Venturing (CSV) 2015 programme, launching this week.

CSV is tailored for early-stage social businesses that often face challenges with securing finance and is being backed by the Government’s £10bn Social Incubator Fund.

Those operating in the arts and culture, education, employment and training, health and social care and community transport sectors can apply.

Applications from businesses which aim to tackle homelessness as well as those which support environment and financial inclusion are also welcomed.

CSV is a partnership between Big Issue Invest and Barclays, with investment and support from five partners – Experian, First Ark, Fusion 21, Places for People and The University of Northampton.

Companies will have the opportunity to pitch for up to £50,000 of investment. They will then be assigned a lead mentor, have access to a network of social entrepreneurs and benefit from a series of workshops which are all designed to help their business succeed.

2014 saw North West-based ParentHub become one of 13 social businesses to secure funding from the programme.

The First Ark Group supported the company with mentoring and promotional activity, which helped ParentHub to launch its app for schools and parents soon afterwards.

Bob Taylor, chief executive of First Ark Group, said:

“Our partnership with Big Issue Invest is an important part of our social investment strategy.

“There will never be enough investment out there, so we must make the funding available go as far as possible.

“The CSV project will see us invest not only money, but time from our pool of experts based here at First Ark, who will work with the successful businesses to ensure they develop and grow.”

To apply, visit – the closing date for applications is May 25.

North West-based social businesses wishing to access additional support with the application process, available via One Ark, can email



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