New social investment fund set to help the north west’s social economy boom

Speaking at the Northern Enterprise Conference in Manchester, the group chief executive of a North West social investment business announced the launch of a new investment fund for early stage and growing social businesses across the region, and invited socially-driven groups to come forward and apply.

Bob Taylor, speaking on the main stage at the event, declared the opening of ‘Invest for Impact’, First Ark Social Investment’s new fund for organisations dedicated to creating long-lasting social impact.

The ‘Invest for Impact’ fund will further increase the impact of the region’s social economy, recently named as one of the most thriving in the UK. The £4m scheme, which is funded by the Growth Fund, an initiative of Access – the Foundation for Social Investment in conjunction with the Big Lottery Fund and Big Society Capital, offers a blend of grant and unsecured loan finance for charities and social enterprises, up to £150k.

First Ark will also provide pre-investment and post-investment support from a dedicated team, ensuring that each investment is shaped to meet the specific needs of each organisation and to help steer them through the application process.

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

“This is a milestone for the North West social economy. We are looking to work with organisations from across the entire region that already have an impact on communities and identify how social investment can help them become stronger, to grow and become more sustainable.

“Our hope is that Invest for Impact will help organisations make the North West a more inclusive place to be, with increased opportunities for everyone. Some of First Ark’s priorities include helping people tackle key issues that enable them to move on in their lives and to be able to seize opportunities to develop skills that allow them to move into long term sustainable employment, this fund can act as an enabler for those outcomes.

“I’d like to invite anyone keen on shaping better futures for their community to come forward and express their interest. I’m looking forward to seeing the impact that this brilliant new opportunity will deliver.”

Seb Elsworth, Chief Executive of Access, said:

“Better access to small scale affordable finance is exactly what the social economy needs to be able to grow, and for social enterprises to increase their impact in communities. First Ark are ideally placed to provide this sort of investment in the North West complementing the broad range of support they already provide for the social sector.”

If you are a socially-driven organisation keen on receiving investment, head to to express your interest.


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