28 Nov 2017

Join us in looking back on Social Business Growth Fund’s first year of financially supporting social businesses in Wales. A fund truly putting money to work in communities.

16 organisations across Wales have benefitted from the innovative support available from Social Business Growth Fund since it opened its doors to applications in November last year.

The funding, which financially supports social businesses to create jobs and strengthen income generation activities in order to become more sustainable, is supported by the European Regional Development Fund through Welsh Government.

It all went off to a flying start with the fund proving very popular - the first panel saw over £470,000 awarded to five organisations and by May 2017, 70% of the East Wales funding had already been earmarked. The last panel of 2017 pushed Social Business Growth Fund's total contribution to social businesses in Wales to over £1m. With many more projects in the pipeline for 2018, it is fair to say that the fund has proved extremely successful.

The assortment of original projects, each one different from the next, range from the purchase of a dog rescue centre to an ocean going yacht… Watching their journeys unfold has been an exciting experience especially with some of the great things the projects have been achieving.

Let's take a look at how some of them are getting on:

SBGF Board Minister KS AM Full

It is difficult to believe that some projects have nearly come to the end of their SBGF journey. Fern Partnership for example, opened the doors of its newly refurbished children's soft play centre, FuZe, in July, after receiving £150,000 from SBGF. The play centre is now up and running and the children (and adults alike) of Ferndale can't get enough of the fun events and activities hosted by the social business.

For some, there have been some hiccups along the way but the SBGF team were always at hand to help where possible. Fighting Fit Torfaen received £10,000 to purchase kit for the gym and hire a new part time coach to expand the services on offer to the community. Jo Draper, Fighting Fit trustee remarked on the support she received from the team:

"They have been focused, supportive, constructive and kept our feet on the ground when things were going well whilst preventing us from being buried when costs spiralled due to some unforeseen structural issues.

It was imperative that our business plan was clear, concise, realistic and achievable and added up! They've helped us to do this. This businesses plan continues to change as we have to evolve and refocus to ensure we stay on target with projections and growth, but the business plan and support has provided us with the foundations to do this."

Goodwash Peru singing

Some of the projects are even gaining celebrity status: watch Rugby Star Shane Williams, TV rugby analyst for BBC Wales Scrum V Sean Holley and Welsh actor Julien Lewis Jones do an acapella on top of a Peruvian mountain for Vi-Ability's luxury shampoo, Goodwash.

On the topic of rugby, when Alun Jones, Head of Social Investment Cymru and staunch Scarlets fan received a phone call from Ospreys in the Community, he set all things Rugby aside and supported them through the application process. By August, the panel awarded the social business nearly £42,000 to take their education programme to market. Read more about their project here.

Joshua OLeary 1

However, it's not all about fame. The Social Business Growth Fund invests in social businesses to help them grow and create jobs, which in turn enhances the impact they have within their communities and on the lives of individuals.  Read how 19 year old Joshua's life was turned around thanks to ELITE Paper Solutions' use of SBGF funding.

Cycle Training Wales recently received £8,000 from the Social Business Growth Fund in order to install a mezzanine floor in their workshop which will allow them the space to offer bicycle repairs to the public. Catrin and Korina from the SBGF team took a little bike trip over to their HQ to see how this small (but very mighty) sum of money will be put to use. Read more here.

Care and Repair video screen shot

We think it is really important for projects to get an opportunity to tell their own stories so people can really see the difference being made to communities across Wales. Take some time today to watch how one social business is truly putting money to work in communities with the help of the Social Business Growth Fund.

We would like to thank everyone who has supported the work of the Social Business Growth Fund over the past year and congratulate all of the successful projects for their untiring contributions to creating a financially stronger and more resilient third sector. Considering how popular the fund has been in its first year, we urge you to get in touch with the team if your social business could benefit from the Social Business Growth Fund.