Investing for Social Impact in East of England just got easier

New online portal enables investors to support local businesses like the award winning social enterprise Harry Specters, and enjoy economic, social and financial return …

20/12/17, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk: Foundation East, the only not for profit Responsible Finance Provider specialising in providing business loans and support to enterprises underserved by banks across the east of England, has today announced the launch of a new online investment portal. The portal enables people and companies interested in social impact investment in the region to invest in membership shares. 100% of the investment is lent to SMEs located in the eastern region, SMEs like the award winning social enterprise Harry Specters. Investing in Foundation East delivers economic and social return to the region and a financial return (minimum 5% per year) to the investor. Doing the right thing has never been easier …

Foundation East, a Suffolk based charitable organisation, is a key player in the Responsible Finance industry and the only Responsible Finance provider offering loans and business support to underserved businesses across the east of England.

Foundation East’s chief executive, Katy Ford, explains:

“We exist to lend money to small businesses who have a viab6e plan, but struggle to raise finance from their bank; businesses like Mona Shah’s Harry Specters, a social enterprise that, having already won 22 awards from Guild of Fine Food & Academy of Chocolate, learnt this week that it was shortlisted for a national award – the Citi Microentrepreneurship Award for Social Enterprise.

“Harry Specters makes and sells award winning chocolates and provides free training, work experience and employment opportunities for people on the Autistic Spectrum. Since launching in 2012, this organisation has provided training and work experience to 183 autistic people, enabling them to produce great products and is employing 4 full-time and 5 part-time employees (6 of whom are on the autistic spectrum). The business plans to double revenues in the next 2 years in order to create more employment for people with autism, quite an achievement and one that may not have been possible without a loan and business support from Foundation East.”

You can read more about the Harry Specters story here.

“This support for businesses and individuals that otherwise might not see their ambitions fulfilled generates a social return for everybody that lives and works in the region. An economic impact report evidenced that Foundation East generated over £15 for every £1 spent on supporting the underserved businesses in the eastern region,” she adds.

The UK Government saw the need to provide responsible finance to SMEs over 20 years ago and kicked off the Responsible Finance Industry (previously known as Community Development Finance) with grant and repayable finance. Today, these capital reserves are dwindling and particularly in the eastern region are not being replaced. Responsible Finance companies like Foundation East are therefore looking to obtain investment from local businesses and individuals who see the benefit of using their reserves to invest in their local community.

“Investors can opt for CITR shares, they can claim 5% of their investment from HMRC annually, for five years, e.g. a £25k investment would entitle them to offset their tax bill by a whopping £6,250 over a 5 year period. CITR equates to a pre-tax return of 6.41% for standard taxpayers, 7.14% for corporate taxpayers and 8.33% for higher taxpayers.”

Whilst the nature of the SMEs Foundation East invests in, (SMES that have been turned away from mainstream finance), may seem high risk, history shows them to be less than mainstream banks imagine. This is thanks to Foundation East’s diligent decision making processes and the expert business support it offers alongside the loan, coupled with the utilisation of the UK Government’s Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme to underwrite all eligible loans.

“We can proudly state that we have always honoured our commitment to our investors,” concludes Katy.
The feel good factor and CITR are not the only benefits of investing in Foundation East of course: the investment will trigger economic and social return in the region too.

Economic return

Investing in Foundation East enables people to contribute positively to their local economy. 100% of their investment is loaned to small businesses who can’t get a loan from the bank. Investment raised through membership helps to support the development of local businesses, safeguard existing jobs and create new jobs. It reduces the dependence of local people on state benefits, leaving more money in the public purse to be spent on vital services.
Social return

Investing in Foundation East enables people to contribute positively to their local community. 100% of their investment is loaned to small businesses who can’t get a loan from the bank. An investment by Foundation East into a small business enables local business owners to fulfil personal ambitions, change their lives and the lives of their families for the better – and to improve their business and life skills.

How to invest
If you are interested in investing in Foundation East, visit http://www.foundationeast.org/invest or call 01284 636550.

ENDS

Photo caption: Mona Shah of Ely-based Harry Specters, a social enterprise which makes and sells award winning chocolates and provides free training, work experience and employment opportunities for people on the Autistic Spectrum. Harry Specters is a finalist in the Citi Microentrepreneurship Award for Social Enterprise and without a loan from Foundation East may never have got off the ground.