Programme for Bristol social enterprises to raise £1.3m in funding

A programme created to support social enterprises in Bristol is to launch a second round of funding to injecting a further £1.3m into the sector over the next 12 months.

First launched in 2021, the Bristol Local Access Programme has played an important role in supporting the growth of social enterprises in the city, providing around £2.5m funding in the form of small grants, loans and business support to around 130 locally based social enterprises.

The programme was established with funding from Access: The Foundation for Social Investment, aimed at rectifying this disparity and fostering more equitable access to finance.

It is managed by award-winning impact investment experts BBRC (Bristol & Bath Regional Capital) and underpinned by a partnership of five local organisations bringing a combination of expertise and support: Black South West Network, School for Social Entrepreneurs, Voscur, Ashley Community Housing and Street2Boardroom.

The programme works by creating bespoke investment packages comprising affordable repayable finance, small grants and tailored business development support and training. Its flexible and dynamic approach is tuned to the unique needs and growth trajectories of the individual enterprises.

Each of the partners has specific targets for the next year, which include:

  • Black South West Network will support 12-15 black and minoritized social enterprises to incubate, accelerate and increase the investment-readiness of their social enterprise
  • The School for Social Entrepreneurs will support 35 Bristol social enterprises, carry out diagnostics and needs assessments with 18 social enterprises, provide ten places on its nine-month Enterprise Learning Programme, and offer a match-traded grant of up to £5k
  • Voscur will provide a broad range of support including one-to-one bespoke support for 40 organisations, quarterly drop-in sessions for early-stage community enterprises, relationship brokering between organisations for mutual support, and a programme of learning and skills training.

Ed Rowberry, chief executive of BBRC, saif: “Bristol is renowned for being an enterprising city with a vibrant business culture. However, it also grapples with significant inequality and unequal wealth distribution, exacerbating social issues in some communities, such as poverty, health disparity, inadequate transport connectivity and lack of housing.

“The Bristol Local Access Programme was conceived to recalibrate Bristol’s economic landscape, making it more equitable and inclusive, rather than just bigger, by investing in enterprises doing good particularly in areas grappling with the greatest inequality. By nurturing the city’s social economy, we aim to address these challenges head-on.

“We’ve seen great success with the first three years of the programme, and we’re delighted to embark on the next stage with a further £1.3m of investment and package of business support. We’re keen to hear from social enterprises in the city with ambitions to grow and a commitment to addressing Bristol’s inequalities.”


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