Micro finance in the UK.

Social Enterprise Assist

cake shop (photo)

In 2012 we secured a joint venture with CAF Bank and NESTA’s ‘Innovation in Giving Fund’ to provide much needed loans, mentoring and consultancy for the social enterprise sector in the UK. The programme is called Social Enterprise (SE)-Assist.

Following a number of pieces of research and the fact that we are still a UK-dominated business we worked with these two partner organisations to identify a gap in the micro finance market for social enterprises.

What is different about what we have done here is:

  • We are providing a unique mix of interest free loans, consultancy and mentoring to start up’s and ‘new’ born social enterprises.
  • An independent community board typically involving a wide range of members of the community and our own employees governs the allocation of funds.
  • The fund is designed to recycle the loan repayments back to then be onward invested in further social enterprises showing that companies must socially invest for the longer term in the communities which they rely upon for trade.

This has provided us with valuable insight into the way that we can provide alternative sources of finance to small businesses and is in response to the Breedon Review published by our former CEO in 2012. The review looks for ways to provide non-banking finance to the small to medium sized enterprise community.

Department for Business Innovation & skills – Taskforce to boost finance options for businesses

The SE-Assist fund was launched in October 2012 and had speakers that included the Minister for Social Enterprise Jo Swinson, Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas and CAF Chief Executive John Low.

John Low praised Legal & General, “We need others in financial services to follow the great lead shown by Legal & General in providing start up capital and vital business advice which can get great projects off the ground.”

Caroline Lucas MP highlighted how this type of project will help her to deliver one of her key priorities “to build a strong resilient local economy” and praised the social enterprise model as being ‘win-win’.

Our plan in 2013 is to expand this to more cities to highlight this important part of the economy involving more corporate partners.

See some background on the Innovation in Giving Fund

See the launch of the SE Assist programme

Visit the SE Assist website

“Through my participation in Legal & General’s collaboration with CAF I was fortunate to be able to support a number of burgeoning social enterprises in developing their ideas into genuine business opportunities. The process of creating the SE Assist programme gave me a much greater awareness of the role that a company like Legal & General has in the communities in which it operates and how it can make a difference through supporting great business ideas that give something back to Legal & General’s customers.”

Alex Wolny, Group procurement Director, Legal & General and SE-Assist Board Member


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