A fund designed to finance ambitious social enterprises in Scotland has launched today.
The Catalyst Fund, delivered by Firstport and Social Enterprise Scotland, offers loans starting at £50,000 using a revenue-based repayment model.
Firstport says it enables social enterprises the flexibility they need in their early stages of development and fills a gap in the existing social investment framework.
The Catalyst Fund could really transform the way we build social enterprises in Scotland.”
Daisy Ford-Downes, Firstport head of group investment programmes
The fund has been made possible by a £15 million investment from the Scottish Government and will complement the existing social enterprise support and funding infrastructure to build on the current ambition of the sector.
The Catalyst Fund is the first to use this model to finance social enterprises in Scotland,
Firstport has supported many social enterprises across the North and North-east including Stonehaven-based The Haven, Farmer Jones Academy in Tain and North East Transport Training.
Julia Morton director of The Haven in Stonehaven: Wellbeing Space and The Haven Community Larder received £5,000 from the start-up funding and then £23,000 from Build it to allow the launch of the food larder.
I always found them to be the most kind, flexible, supportive and empowering funder.”
She said: “Without the Firstport Build it funding I wouldn’t have been able to diversify the social enterprise and keep ourselves open and really serve the community.
“I always found them to be the most kind, flexible, supportive and empowering funder.
“They trust you to get on with it and always my first post of call. They truly live up to their name.”
The Catalyst Fund repayments are based upon a percentage of the trading income earned by the enterprise. There is no specific length of term either – revenue-based repayments continue until an agreed amount is repaid.
Daisy Ford-Downes, Firstport head of group investment programmes, said: “The Catalyst Fund could really transform the way we build social enterprises in Scotland.
“At Firstport and Social Enterprise Scotland, we have been listening to social entrepreneurs and reviewing the data, and we know that there is a gap in social investment for early-stage social enterprises.
“It is a missing stepping-stone in the path, and it is preventing too many from reaching their full potential.
“We’re so excited to launch this fund and to start helping social enterprises to build successful, sustainable organisations.”
Chris Martin, Social Enterprise Scotland chief executive, said: “Scotland has an excellent track record of social investment and I am delighted to see the Catalyst Fund launch as a complementary financing option for social enterprises who can’t currently access mainstream social investment.
“The Catalyst Fund will help support ambitious social enterprises to accelerate their ambitions and deliver social and environmental impact at scale without needing to revise their business model to access traditional investment. “