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Is social investment working in Scotland?

Recent commentary in a Pioneers Post article made the claim that “Social investment isn’t working, at least, as well as it should be.” The article remarked that: “If you are working in a poor community and you require a small scale loan and you can’t provide security, the social investment market just isn’t there for you.”

This prompted us to take a quick look back at our own figures over the last 15 months to see how Social Investment Scotland fits into the bigger picture.

A small scale loan defined by the article was anything under £250,000 but as we discovered that 93% of our loans were sub £250k, we decided to break it down a bit further.

 

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Only 7% of all SIS loans drawn down over the last 15 months were over £250k; with a surprising 61% of all our loans actually under £50k.

This is partly due to the continued resounding success of our Asda Community Capital fund – sub £50k loans, charged at 5%, unsecured and for early start organisations who have never borrowed money before. When designing this fund we were critically aware of the issues raised by the article and the research shared is useful as we continue to listen to the sector and its funding and investment needs.

We also had a quick look at our pipeline of loans either approved or under consideration…

 

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An increase to 19% of loans being plus £250k can be attributed to our recent Growth & Replication Challenge – where we leveraged in some business support money to support organisations looking for over £100k to scale or replicate their charity or social enterprise. This backs up the view that additional business support is sometimes required to get organisations comfortable with taking on social investment, especially with larger sums of money.

These loans seem to be reaching the most deserving parts of Scotland. Our annual social impact surveys show that well over a third of the beneficiaries of SIS customers are in the 0-15% most deprived postcodes as defined by the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD).

Link Community Development International, a small but hugely impactful international charity based in Edinburgh is an example of a customer who recently received a small loan from SIS:

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In 2016 Link Community Development International (Link) anticipated an serious cash flow problem due to a mismatch between the timing of expenditure and fundraising income. A small loan from Social Investment Scotland ensured that Link was able to survive and continue its programme work uninterrupted, opening doors and unlocking major new funding opportunities which will allow us to reach many thousands of new beneficiaries. Link is a Scottish-based charity improving education for some of the poorest children in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Fiona Greig – CEO – Link Community Development International