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Venturesome team


Charities Aid Foundation


28 November 2014

CAF Venturesome is delighted to announce that our pioneering SE-Assist fund has been named Best Investment Project at the Investment Week Sustainable Investment Awards.

Social Enterprise Assist (SE-Assist) is a joint venture led by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) and our corporate partner Legal & General, opening up new ways for corporates to engage in social investment.


SE-Assist offers a vibrant package of support to early-stage organisations, providing ventures with access to loan capital, mentoring from L&G business leaders and expert consultancy throughout the process. The programme provides investment to a wide range of start-up businesses who may currently be struggling to raise capital or lack the expertise or experience to get off the ground.

SE-Assist has successfully led the way in developing a new, community-owned investment model to support social enterprise development. First piloted in Brighton & Hove 2013, in its first two years SE-Assist has grown to support 10 social enterprises across two regions with a total of £174,000 of affordable loan finance. Loans are interest free and between £10,000 to £30,000, making taking on social investment and  accompanying business support highly accessible to early-stage organisations. The programme further supports the preparedness of organisations to take on financing from other sources.

SE-Assist has benefitted from support from key partners, receiving matched funding from the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Coast2Capital and backing from Croydon Council. The programme’s ability to rally the support of stakeholders around building local social enterprise infrastructure is one of its unique strengths.

We are proud to have supported eight  fantastic organisations across Sussex and Croydon in 2014, who we are delighted to showcase here. The SE-Assist team is excited to expand the programme to new regions of the UK in 2015 and beyond. We are always eager to hear from new potential partners, including funders, those providing business mentoring, regional networks and enterprises seeking the SE-Assist package of support.

Engage & Create

Engage & Create is a social enterprise delivering cognitive stimulation sessions to people with dementia in care homes and other settings. Led by artist and founder Rachel Mortimer, Engage & Create provides art workshops for vulnerable individuals and aims to challenge the culture surrounding how dementia care is provided. The organisation further provides training in these methods to care professionals.  SE-Assist Sussex provided Engage & Create with an interest free loan of £10,000 to develop a licensing product that would allow subscribers to access Engage & Create’s content and grow the impact of the enterprise’s valuable work.

Grace Eyre Foundation

The Grace Eyre Foundation’s mission is to support, assist and promote social justice for individuals with learning disabilities and mental health needs. SE-Assist Sussex has supported the Grace Eyre Foundation’s Purple Playhouse project with £10,000 of loan financing to establish the theatre as an independent legal entity. The loan will cover the salary of a part-time Theatre & Events Manager, who will grow the theatre’s rental income and support the charity’s core activities and sustainability. The theatre will further employ the Foundation’s beneficiaries in running its cafe and bar business.

Ecological Land Cooperative

The Ecological Land Co-operative (ELC) has the primary purpose of producing and selling affordable sites for ecological land based livelihoods in the UK. The sites are for new entrants who would otherwise not be able to access land. ELC also provides free planning advice to parties interested in the ecological sector and carries out research to support sustainable land-based livelihoods. SE-Assist’s £23,000 loan will provide ELC with working capital while carrying out investment raising to expand its operations into Sussex.


The Shika fashion label produces African inspired clothing.  It is the trading arm of wider charity Shika, which provides educational opportunities for children in Tanzania. Clothes are produced in accordance with fair trade principles, providing employment to vulnerable women in Tanzania. SE-Assist has committed £25,000 for investment into the Shika brand to hire a new sales member of staff, increase the enterprise’s outlets and to launch an online sales platform. Shika will also provide work experience placements to students and young people in the Brighton area.  Surpluses generated from the trading arm will go directly towards supporting the charity’s education programmes in Tanzania.

The Bevendean Community Pub

The Bevy will be the first cooperative pub and cafe on a housing estate in the UK. The pub is located in the Moulsecoomb and Bevendean ward of Brighton, which is placed in the bottom 5% of deprived wards in the UK. The Bevy will provide a community asset to the surrounding area, acting as a meeting place and community hub, as well as serving affordable food and drink. The pub will further generate employment opportunities in a vulnerable locality. SE-Assist Sussex has committed £30,000 to allow the pub to complete the new building’s fit-out and to open in the Autumn of 2014.

hiSbe Food CIC

hiSbe is a Community Interest Company and independent supermarket which aims to bring high-quality, ethical food into the mainstream and show how a supermarket can operate in a sustainable way. Following the successful launch of their first shop on London Road in Brighton, the company aspires to scale to become a chain. In 2013, the SIC awarded hiSbe a £10,000 interest free loan and access to a dedicated L&G mentor. In September 2014, hiSbe was awarded a further £20,000 of SE-Assist financing to drive sales through expanding its product offering in profitable areas and increased advertising.

Citizen Newspapers

The Croydon Citizen is a not-for-profit community newspaper that provides a platform for Croydon residents to air views, investigate issues and inspire local debate. The paper aims to encourage the development of a community that is more engaged in civic life. SE-Assist Croydon has supported The Croydon Citizen with £13,000 of loan financing, to be repaid from advertising revenues, to fund more secure distribution stands. This will help to both increase the newspaper’s circulation and to better monitor distribution. SE-Assist’s loan will further cover working capital needs to support the enterprise until it becomes self-sustaining and allow the employment of a full-time business development director.

Skills to Donate

The Mum’s the Chef project is the most active and significant project of the company Skills to Donate, a social enterprise that matches skilled people with voluntary sector organisations looking for those skills. Mums the Chef provides training and employment opportunities for long-term unemployed ethnic minority women, who have often not been able to access qualifications and work experience. Mums the Chef offers corporate catering, dinner parties and weekly meal delivering to its customers. SE-Assist Croydon has supported Skills to Donate with a £13,000 loan to allow the company to move to new premises and upgrade its kitchen equipment to expand to new clients and markets in London.

Want to know more? Talk to our team on 03000 123 300 or email us at and we’ll be happy to help.