New £500k funding pot to help London charities step into social investment market

City of London - 3/28/2017 5:10:00 PM

Over £500,000 of funding is now available for charities looking to break into the London social investment market.

The money is available through the Stepping Stones Fund, a funding programme launched in 2015 by the City of London Corporation's Charitable arm, City Bridge Trust, and UBS. City Bridge Trust has already awarded over £2,185,000 to 49 organisations across 20 London boroughs through the fund.

Through the scheme, funding, advice and learning opportunities are made available to help organisations develop their ideas, bring in new technical assistance and get products ready for market.

Beneficiaries range from charities supporting disadvantaged children and young people, to community projects looking to strengthen local employment skills and education.

Alison Gowman, Chairman of the City of London Corporation's City Bridge Trust committee, commented:

"We have already been able to award a large amount of funding to such a wide range of organisations through the fund. We understand it takes hard work to develop a new market and the simple provision of capital is rarely enough to encourage the quality and diversity of product to emerge.

"We are very excited about the latest round of Stepping Stones, which has opened for applications today and we look forward to receiving applications from organisations looking to step into the social investment market."

One recent grantee, the Bike Project, is using the funding to employ bike mechanics to achieve their mission of getting refugees cycling to help them become better integrated and involved in the community. Jem Stein, Director of the organisation, which received a £40,000 grant from Stepping Stones in November, said:

"The Stepping Stones grant has been instrumental in testing our business model on a larger scale which has transformed our ability to attract investment. This has already been successful and we are currently discussing our options with potential investors."

The Stepping Stones Fund is underpinned by a strong partnership between City Bridge Trust and UBS. It is a combination of the Trust's grant making expertise, funding offered by UBS and the skills and insights of the bank's corporate volunteers.

Nick Wright, Managing Director, Corporate Responsibility and Community Affairs at UBS, added:

"We are delighted to see the difference that the Stepping Stones Fund has been able to make in such a short time through the disbursement of funds and deployment of UBS employee volunteers.

"We've seen a range of organisations that have been helped in building their capacity and increasing their social impact across a number of sectors. We would encourage more third sector organisations and social entrepreneurs to explore the opportunities presented by the Fund."

City Bridge Trust provides grants totalling around £20 million per year towards charitable activity benefitting Greater London. It is dedicated to making the capital a fairer place to work and live. The Trust has awarded around 7,500 grants totalling over £360 million since it first began in 1995. It is London's biggest independent grant giver tackling disadvantage across the capital.