Social entrepreneurs get £33m injection

Entrepreneurs striving to make a difference in the toughest parts of the country have been given a £33million boost by the UK’s first community development venture capitalist.

Bridges Community Ventures yesterday declared a new line up of investor partners after achieving a “first close” on its second venture fund.

The company said it has now raised £33m that will be invested in businesses located in the UK’s most deprived areas, and in areas where social visionaries have produced “exceptionally strong benefits” for local communities.

In addition to the founding members, the backers of the new fund include HSBC, Citigroup, Doughty Hanson & Co and the West Midlands Pension Fund.

The fund has also succeeded in attracting new investors including Barclays Business Banking, the charitable trust SHINE: Support and Help in Education and a number of family trusts, foundations and individuals.

“Investors are attracted to our unique approach of investing in businesses in deprived areas to generate social as well as financial returns,” said Philip Newborough, managing director.

“£33m exceeded both our target for this first close and the private sector investment in our first fund and we look forward to increasing the fund over the next few months. This first close underlines our confidence that these types of funds can be successful, attract investors and that they are going to grow in the future.”

In its first fund, the company has built a balanced portfolio which includes early stage businesses like SimplySwitch, a telephone based price comparison service for utilities and financial services.

In addition there is the property-backed businesses like The Office, which acquires freeholds and manages buildings in Bridges target areas and provides easy-in, easy-out managed offices to suit small businesses.


27th June 2006

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