UnLtd Impact Fund

We want to create a society that is better able to meet the needs and aspirations of people distant from the labour market. To do this we want to support social entrepreneurs to create solutions at scale.

The UnLtd Impact Fund is a practical finance package for ambitious social ventures who are improving access to employment for those distant from the labour market.

The UnLtd Impact Fund offers your venture:

  • A blended loan and grant financing package of between £50,000 and £150,000
  • An unsecured business loan at an interest rate of 9.5%
  • Repayable over a maximum of five years
  • Support from an UnLtd venture support manager, one of our experts in supporting social ventures to scale 

We launched the UnLtd Impact Fund thanks to funding from Access - the Foundation for Social Investment. Over the next three years the UnLtd Impact Fund will back 35 ambitious social ventures with bold solutions to improve people's access to employment.

How we can support you

As well as financial support we can support your social venture to scale in a number of ways.

1-to-1 support

Bespoke support provided by one of our experts. This support will be tailored to your needs and appropriate to the stage of growth your social venture is at.

Expertise & networks

Access to paid for and pro bono support from specialists. Introductions and access to events to build collaborations with organisations in your sector. Access to Hogan Lovells legal support.

Finance

Access to investment of between £50,000 - £150,000. Investment is in the form of a blended loan and grant financing package. The loan element has a 9.5% interest rate and is repayable over a maximum of five years.

Need extra support?

 

If you need extra help with governance, business planning or financial management before taking on repayable finance, we can offer a route to grant funding through Access Reach. This is an investment readiness programme that offers grant funding to be spent on work to get you ready for the Impact Fund.

We’ll work with you to find the right support from one of our trusted consultants. You then apply for a grant with our backing. If you’re successful, you can use the grant to pay for consultancy work and to boost your venture’s capacity.

Find out more by getting in touch to discuss the support you require


Frequently asked questions

The UnLtd Impact Fund is a practical finance package for ambitious early-stage social ventures within the employment sector. The fund consists of debt finance, grant funding and intensive support.

To apply you must be:

  • Based in England
  • Focused on employment or employability
  • An incorporated voluntary, community or social enterprise orgnisation
  • Typically have been operating for at least 21 months

We are agnostic on legal structure, however, Companies Limited by Shares will need an appropriate social mission lock. We look for social ventures who have proof of sales and impact.

Please note that, as the UnLtd Impact Fund is partially funded by the Big Lottery Fund, a percentage of our finance package is subject to state aid law, which limits the amount of state aid received over a three year period. We work to the EU’s de minimus level, meaning that social ventures will be ineligible if they have received more than €200,000 over a rolling three year period.

We will be investing in approximately 35 social ventures over three years who operate within the employment sector and are looking to grow their impact. We offer a blended unsecured business loan and grant finance package. The loan element has a 9.5% interest rate and is repayable over a maximum of five years. The level of grant funding is, on average, 15% of the loan amount.

The maximum financial package we offer is £150,000. We are able to co-invest provided the total amount of financing including co-investment does not exceed £150,000. We also seek to ensure the co-investor shares the UnLtd Impact Fund’s values and that co-investment is deemed appropriate. If you are seeking more than this amount in a single funding round, unfortunately, we are unable to invest.

The UnLtd Impact Fund only offers debt investments. However, we are able to co-invest alongside equity investment provided that the equity investor(s) share the UnLtd Impact Fund’s values and that co-investment is deemed appropriate.

The UnLtd Impact Fund supports social ventures whose primary purpose is to increase access to employment. We define social ventures as operating in the employment sector if they operate within:

  • School leavers and apprenticeships
  • Further Education and Higher Education
  • Unemployment and underemployment
  • Supporting those distant from the labour market.
The UnLtd Impact Fund was launched in November 2017. Through our previous accelerator programme, Big Venture Challenge, which ran between 2013 and 2016, we supported 120 ventures to raise over £13m of social investment. The average investment raise of those who secured investment was £177,000.
Offering of investment is an evolution of our model. The early stage social investment market is underserved, and alongside our support, we believe that this is a strong offer which is in line with market rate.

Social ventures can access a total financing package of between £50,000 and £150,000. The majority of this funding is by way of a loan, with a grant to the sum of, on average, 15% of the loan amount provided in addition to the loan. The loan is charged at 9.50% interest, and the grant is non-repayable and does not carry interest.

 

Repayment periods can vary, but are up to a maximum of five years. Within this, we can offer capital repayment holidays of up to 12 months.

The UnLtd Impact Fund offers a support package tailored to each social venture it supports. Support is led by a dedicated Venture Manager and focuses on:

  • Tailored 1-2-1 support: bespoke support, appropriate to the stage of growth the social venture is encountering
  • Peer-to-peer learning: same sector collaborations facilitated through introductions and events
  • Strategic networks: paid for and pro bono support from consultants, partners and legal firms.

In order to apply, complete an expression of interest. Successful applicants will be invited to complete a full application which will include submission of a financial model.

You can submit your existing model or use our template. Following this assessment, we invite successful applicants to due diligence, at which point we select applicants which we take forward to our Investment Committee and Board.

Before we can provide you with a loan, we will need to undertake due diligence on your social venture. This will include ‘Know Your Customer’ and credit checks together with reviews of your business plan, strategy, financial planning, social purpose and legal structure.

We will work closely with you to understand your business plan and will let you know exactly what information and documentation we require to complete the due diligence process.

The Big Venture Challenge supported 120 social ventures to grow their impact and their turnover. We have become experts in the growth of early stage social ventures and identified the need for a finance package which consists of debt finance, grant funding and intensive support. We see this as an evolution of our model to offer support and a product that is much needed in our market.

The Big Venture Challenge was an accelerator programme which supported growth and used match funding to leverage external social investment.

While incredibly successful, a limitation of the Big Venture was its inability to offer finance itself without a social investor wishing to also invest. This meant that we could not build long-term relationships with social ventures by offering appropriate finance and long-term support.

The UnLtd Impact Fund makes direct investments to social ventures, without the need to match fund against external investment.

The UnLtd Impact Fund is designed to complement UnLtd’s other support programmes. The Big Venture Challenge highlighted the challenge of the ‘missing middle’ of early stage social investment. The UnLtd Impact Fund is designed to help solve this growth gap by offering access to appropriate support and finance at the early stage of the market.

David Bartram is UnLtd’s Director of Ventures. David oversees UnLtd Venture’s strategy and the delivery and running of all programmes in the Ventures team.

Ben Smith is UnLtd’s Investment Lead. Ben drives UnLtd’s social investment strategy, has oversight of the UnLtd Impact Fund’s portfolio and leads on the business development of new funds.

Farheen Chaudhry is UnLtd’s Investment Manager. Farheen is in charge of the UnLtd Impact Fund’s selection and assessment process, taking social ventures to Investment Committee and the fund’s day-to-day running.

Camilla Elwood is UnLtd’s Venture Support Manager. Camilla leads on the UnLtd Impact Fund’s intensive post-investment one-to-one support, and building connections between social ventures within our networks.

Criteria

To apply you must be:

  • Based in England
  • Focused on employment or employability (see above for details)
  • An incorporated voluntary, community or social enterprise organisation
  • Typically have been operating for at least 21 months
  • Have a trading and social impact track record

Access to employment

We will support social ventures who are working to increase access to employment and operate with any of the following:

  • School leavers and apprenticeships
  • Higher and further education
  • Unemployment and underemployment
  • Supporting those distant from the labour market

Legal structure

We are agnostic on legal structure, however, Companies Limited by Shares will need an appropriate social mission lock. We look for social ventures who have proof of sales and impact.

You can find out more about our work with social mission locks in our Spotlight paper Profit, Purpose, Impact: Mission locks insights from practice.

Apply for investment

Does your social venture have the ambition, ideas and passion to take impact to the next level? Apply today.

Submit an application

Our Plan

At UnLtd, we know many social entrepreneurs get to a stage where they want their venture to grow. They’re ambitious for what they can achieve. And we know it’s not just additional finance they’re after.

That’s why we developed the UnLtd Impact Fund. It’s a fund to help social ventures grow their impact.

Combined with our proven approach of intensive expert support, with access to a peer-to-peer network, we're offering a blended, flexible finance package for ventures to scale up.

To begin with the UnLtd Impact Fund is focusing on access to employment.

The Impact Fund is funded by Access – the Foundation for Social Investment and its funding partners Big Lottery Fund and Big Society Capital.

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