HISBE shop front

CAF Venturesome

HISBE FOOD

Read HISBE Food's story to see how patient, flexible capital with a grant layer can support small social enterprises grow into substantial community businesses.

Get in touch About social investment

CAF Venturesome has supported the social enterprise HISBE since 2013, first through the SE-Assist Fund, then through the Development Fund. 

We have lent them a total of £137k, with £70k already repaid, and made a grant of £33k alongside the most recent social investment loan. 

About HISBE Food

HISBE Food (‘How it Should Be’ Food) is a social enterprise founded in 2010 which wanted to make good, sustainable food affordable and accessible to the people of Brighton. They wanted to bring together local, fairly traded and packaging-free food under one roof, whilst creating jobs for the local people and opportunities for other social enterprises to be their suppliers.

HISBE planned to open its first store in Brighton in 2012.  To finance the new store, they needed to raise grants and investment – a challenging task for a start-up social enterprise.  They applied for an interest-free loan of £10,000 to CAF Venturesome’s first SE-Assist Fund round – securing this social investment, as well as invaluable mentoring support and introductions to other local social enterprises. 

Growing into substantial community businesses

In December 2013, HISBE successfully launched its first store in central Brighton in a 3,000sq ft space, selling ethically sourced products, with a focus on supporting local suppliers from Sussex.

By 2017, the store employed 11 staff members and sourced produce from 90 local suppliers– selling everything from fruit and vegetables, to dried cereal in huge dispensers to reduce cost.

At the beginning of 2021, HISBE opened a second store in Worthing, thanks in part to an additional £60k social investment from CAF Venturesome's Development Fund.

However, Covid-19 had a significant negative impact on their income due to the loss of footfall at their Brighton shop, and the delay of the opening of their Worthing shop to January 2021.

HISBE's worthing store
HISBE’s new store in Worthing, Sussex, opened in 2021.

HISBE applied to CAF Venturesome for further social investment support at the beginning of 2021 to secure its short to medium-term financial stability.

Navigating challenges imposed by the pandemic

HISBE has a unique proposition in the food industry and they have demonstrated their ability to support the local economy. They have taken decisive actions this year to address the challenging situation and they have a good track record of growing turnover of the store and repaying our facilities.  Therefore, we were happy to support them with blended finance, part loan / part grant, for £100k from our Development Fund.

One of the main issues facing small social enterprises and charities as they emerge from the pandemic is access to affordable, flexible finance with unrestricted grants where possible.

The grant was provided thanks to £500k from Access – the Foundation for Social Investment’s Emergency Lending Programme. This has been awarded to CAF Venturesome, and other social investors, to make grants alongside loans until the end of June 2021 to help social organisations recover from the effects of the pandemic.

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