We’ve invested £1 million to tackle social inequality in the UK

Mathu Jeyaloganathan

Head of Investment

4th October 2023

9:00am

...

We launched the Growth Impact Fund with the belief that equitable access to finance for founders traditionally marginalised from social investment can transform society. A year on, we’re announcing our newest investees and reflecting on the impact we’ve had so far.

In the last year, we’ve supported social purpose organisations tackling the cost of living crisis, unemployment for neurodiverse individuals, and prisoner rehabilitation through education. We know that social inequality and the cost-of-living crisis are having a negative impact on people across the country with some more affected than others. Data from the Office Of National Statistics (ONS) suggests that the most deprived areas of England are the hardest hit by the cost-of-living crisis, with 58% of people spending less on essentials than other parts of the country.

Sarah Faber, Investment Director for the Fund at Big Issue Invest, said: “Our first four investees are a testament to our belief in the positive social benefits of equitable access to finance – from prisoner education as a means of rehabilitation to supporting people through the cost-of-living crisis, we're so proud to support social purpose organisations that are paving the way for business as a force for good.”

Introducing Lightning Reach and Harry Specters

Lightning Reach and Harry Specters join the Fund as its newest investees. The Fund has made a £250,000 investment in Lightning Reach, a platform that has facilitated over £6m in grants to individuals in need of financial assistance and registered over 60,000 users. By providing people with access to financial support, Lightning Reach is tackling the cost-of-living crisis head-on.

Nicole, a mum of two from Romford accessed grant funding through the platform after finding herself facing financial difficulties, she said: “It relieved my stress, I was getting really stressed out about how I am going to pay. It reduced the number of days that I had to wait to top up the account to make sure the payment was made. The grant really helped me in that particular month to get me through.”

A further £259,482 was invested in chocolate company Harry Specters, a social purpose organisation with award-winning flavours driving positive social change. Founded by Mona and Shaz in 2011 as a means of supporting their autistic son, [1] the company now employs 12 Neurodiverse individuals and has provided over 200 autistic people with free training and work experience.

Zoey Clenshaw joined Harry Specters in 2021, working across the sales, customer services and admin functions. Despite her skills and degrees in performing arts, Zoe struggled to find and maintain employment. At Harry Specters she has become ‘The Office Octopus’ as she happily and efficiently handles a variety of different tasks.

Zoey said, "as a late-diagnosed autistic woman I had previously struggled to hold down a job due to sensory and social difficulties. Now after just over 2 years working at Harry Specters I have been able to leave an abusive marriage, live confidently by myself, and thrive in a working environment where I am understood and accepted for who I am."

Read our annual report to learn more about the Growth Impact Fund and our approach.


References

  1. Public opinions and social trends, Great Britain: 8 to 20 November 2022
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