Housing associations urged to start up social enterprise schemes
The National Housing Federation and BIGinvest are jointly encouraging non-profit housing associations to take up an opportunity to start up new social enterprise schemes.
BIGinvest is an initiative of one of the most influential social businesses in the UK, The Big Issue.
It lends directly to community finance and social enterprise projects such as Thorpete, the successful gas maintenance firm originally set up by Leicester Housing Association-ASRA.
Thorpete creates jobs for local people who have struggled to find work; helps jobseekers to gain recognised qualifications; and channels all its ‘profit’ back into the community.
Now BIGinvest, which has a loan fund of £3.5 million and is raising a further £10 million, wants to support housing associations aiming to set up similar projects that create financial opportunity in their local communities.
The Federation wants housing associations to take up this opportunity, and has written to all its members encouraging them to get involved.
The minimum loan size is £50,000, although BIGinvest has also partnered with banks and Community Development Finance Institutions to deliver finance packages of over £500,000.
David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: ‘The National Housing Federation is pleased to be associated with BIGinvest.
‘As part of the iN business for neighbourhoods initiative, and our work on financial inclusion,developing social enterprises is a key element in growing community prosperity. We would encourage associations to get in touch with BIGinvest, to examine the possibilities of working together.’
Nigel Kershaw, chief executive of BIGinvest, said: ‘Together BIGinvest, the Federation and housing associations have the potential to create enormous social opportunity, employment and regeneration by fuelling the growth of social enterprises.’