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4 reasons to apply for the Net Zero Transition Fund

More and more social enterprises and third sector organisations are focusing on the important transition to carbon net zero. With this in mind, SIS is delighted to partner with Zero Waste Scotland to deliver the Social Enterprise Net Zero Transition Fund (NZTF).  


The purpose of the fund is to support social sector organisations in their journey to become carbon neutral and to support the development of the circular economy. The fund provides loans from £10,000, and those who have a particular focus on the circular economy or on re-use, repair and leasing/sharing models may also be eligible for a small grant award.  

Who is eligible for the loan? 

To be eligible for a loan, social sector organisations must: 

  • Generate a trading income that allows for loan repayments 
  • Be based and operating in Scotland or be delivering most of their impact in Scotland 
  • Be able to evidence their ambition to transition to a net zero model 
  • And/or be looking to establish or grow circular economy practices. 

What activities can the Social Enterprise Net Zero Transition Fund support? 

Below, we explore four reasons why you might want to apply for the NZTF. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list so please do get in touch to explore your specific circumstances. 

1. Reduce the impact of your energy consumption 

Whether or not your organisation’s core activities are centred on environmental impact, everyone has a role to play in the transition to carbon net zero. One way to do this is by reducing the negative impact of your organisation’s energy consumption. 

For example, The Green Hive in Nairn has taken a previously underused community hub and created a centre that provides a variety of environmentally-focused activities and services to the local people. Following an energy assessment, the enterprise installed a range of energy-efficient measures such as LED lighting, double glazing and solar panels that has resulted in a 61% reduction in the hub’s CO2 emissions. In addition, The Green Hive has also seen a financial saving of around £3,000 on their annual energy bill.  

2. Redesign your products for longevity 

The world is no stranger to the impact of single-use plastic and other environmentally harmful products and packaging. The NZTF can be used to support the shift towards more eco-friendly products and packaging.  

For instance, The Beauty Kitchen is an SME on a mission to create more effective, natural and sustainable beauty products. The enterprise developed new products across their skincare, body care and hair care ranges using compostable or reusable packaging. They developed a return > refill > repeat service that exists to help customers, retailers and brand owners shift from single use plastic to reusable packaging. This effort has unlocked a more circular business model and means that containers are kept in use for longer.  

3. Utilise more sustainable materials 

Another way that some organisations are contributing to a circular economy is by getting creative with the materials that they source. By switching out materials to ones that are more sustainable or repurposed, social organisations can not only reduce their own carbon footprint but help reduce wider environmental impact by repurposing materials that would normally become waste. 

For example, insulation company East Africa Sisal discovered that they could adopt a resource recovery model. The enterprise now makes use of discarded coffee sacks – that would otherwise be sent to landfill – to create a blended and more sustainable base material for their insulation products. 

4. Revamp your business model 

Increasingly, social sector organisations are switching to innovative business models to prolong the lifespan of products and better support their customers while supporting a circular economy. 

One enterprise doing this is Elite Contract Furniture. The organisation has moved to a subscription model where their customers pay a subscription fee to make use of furniture items that they can return to the enterprise when they would have otherwise been thrown away. By adding a subscription model and a refurbishing service to their enterprise, Elite Contract Furniture has been able to extend the life of furniture significantly, keeping items out of landfill while delivering a great service to their customers. 

FAQs 

What are the terms of the investment? 

Investment from the NZTF is intended to be as flexible as possible. While a bespoke investment package will be developed in partnership with you, the following terms can be used as a guide: 

  • Amount: £10,000 – £1,500,000 
  • Interest rate: 3%, fixed 
  • Term: Loans must be settled in full by 31st March 2031 
  • Repayment: We will work with you to find an affordable and flexible package that works for you. 
  • Security/Fees: No security or fees. 
  • Grants: Some small grants of up to £20,000 may be available to organisations with a particular focus on projects that deliver new or additional re-use or repair activity that will achieve positive carbon benefits. The project must result in a carbon saving or add value to a ‘waste’ product or material. 

Can you access the grant without taking a loan? 

This fund is a loan product that is, in some instances, supported by grant funding. Therefore, the grant cannot be accessed without also taking on a loan. As it is debt finance, it’s all about taking on the amount you need as opposed to how much you can get. The SIS team works closely with organisations to understand whether you can service debt and if so how much.  

Can you apply more than once? 

Absolutely. Whether you were successful or unsuccessful initially and your circumstances have changed, you’re welcome to apply again.  

Do you need to have started trading? 

It depends. Generally, we have to be able to demonstrate that you will be able to repay a loan and that the debt won’t put a strain on your organisation. If you have evidence of future trading (e.g. contracts for work) then perhaps we would be able to support. We’re more than happy to discuss this with you to see if we can help. 

Can this fund cover employee wages? 

If the activity is centred on developing a circular economy and reducing carbon emissions, this fund may be able to support with staff wages. If this fund isn’t quite right for your needs, SIS has several other funds that we can explore to see whether a tailored package would be able to support your organisation. Simply get in touch and we can chat about your plans and options. 

How do I apply?

If you would like to apply, please complete an Expression of Interest (EOI) form here. This is a short form, which seeks to understand your Net Zero Transition plans and your plans for the funds. Please send your completed EOI form to hello@socialinvestmentscotland.com with the requested supporting information. 

EOI’s will then be reviewed by the SIS and Zero Waste Scotland teams. If you are invited to the next stage, you will be assigned an Investment Manager who will guide you through the process and the information we require for the next stage. 

Don’t forget, we’re happy to chat over the phone or by email so please don’t hesitate to get in touch should you have any questions.