Social Investment Scotland backs record 45 projects with £7.5m of funding
Social Investment Scotland, which invests funds put up by banks and the Scottish and UK governments, has revealed that it provided a record £7.5 million to 45 social enterprises, charities and community organisations over the last year.
SIS chairman Nick Kuenssberg, whose daughter Laura was named last month by the BBC as its new political editor, said the SIS’s busiest year was the result of an increase in demand for social investment, including significant levels of activity in community renewable energy schemes and sports projects.
SIS’s 15-strong team supported the record number of social enterprises, charities and community organisations during the year to March with funds provided by Royal Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale Bank, Bank of Scotland and Dutch lender Triodos.
Since it started in 2001, SIS has made investments totalling £48.9m andchief executive Alastair Davis said that last year’s haul of 45 investments was up on the 37 backed during the prior financial year.
“Over the past year, we have seen a step change in Scotland’s social investment market with marked increases on both the supply and demand sides”, Mr Davis said.
He highlighted a big investment by SIS’s Social Growth Fund in Our Power, which is involved in reducing the energy costs for housing associations and involved about 30 local authorities.
SIS has a key role in running the Asda Community Capital fund, launched late last year, which backs innovative social enterprises and community projects with funds raised through the Scottish Government’s single-use carrier bag levy and is also the fund manager of the £1m Legacy 2014: Sustainable Sport for Communities Fund, in which the Scottish Government and The Robertson Trust are also involved.
Chairman Nick Kuenssberg said: “This last year we have had a mixture of three or four very big investments and lots of smaller investments through the likes of the Asda Community Capital Fund and the sports development fund.”
SIS has also supported Edinburgh club Spartans’ football academy.
Highlighting SIS’s funding of the development of sports clubs, Mr Kuenssberg said: “We see huge benefits for communities through sport, where people are always wanting to get involved and where the more enlightened leaders of these entities are able to bring kids in, they are able to bring them the benefits of their experience in terms of homework clubs, in terms of looking after their health, and such like.”
SIS said that, over its last financial year, it had secured £23m of new or renewed investment commitments from Royal Bank of Scotland, Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale Bank, the Scottish Government, the UK Government-backed Big Society Capital, Triodos Bank and Asda.
Mr Kuenssberg highlighted how seriously SIS took its corporate governance responsibilities, and praised the efforts of the organisation’s management.
He said: “We, as investors, are taking our responsibilities very, very seriously indeed.”
In terms of the size of loans advanced by SIS, Mr Kuenssberg highlighted his view that it was better for society that the organisation supported large numbers of smaller projects, as opposed to concentrating on big investments.
He added: “It obviously costs us more to administer and monitor when we are doing the smaller ones (but) that is a good thing for Scottish society.”