Thursday, November 13, 2008

SocialEntrepreneurs Fund

Bridges Ventures yesterday announced the launch of the Bridges Social
Entrepreneurs Fund (http://www.bridgesventures.com/), a new fund
dedicated to investment in social enterprises. The Fund is an
initiative of the Bridges Charitable Trust and has so far raised £4.25
million. NESTA (http://www.nesta.org.uk/), the National Endowment for
Science, Technology and the Arts, who made the first commitment to the
fund and acted as a catalyst for private sector investment, hosted the
the launch event.

The other Founder Partners are individuals and institutions from the
financial sector and include Sir Ronald Cohen, Nigel Doughty, Harvey
McGrath, Apax Foundation, The Generation Foundation, Lehman Brothers
Foundation Europe, Deutsche Bank, 3i and the Bridges Ventures team who
have allocated funds from their profit share. All the founder
partners have supported the fund through donations to the Bridges
Charitable Trust creating what will be an Evergreen Fund.

The Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund will invest in scalable social
enterprises that deliver a high social impact and operate financially
sustainable business models. The fund will invest up to £1m in each
social enterprise, through hands-on, equity-like capital and aims to
achieve a high social impact, through recycling capital into multiple
projects, and to establish a track record of financial returns to
attract additional investment into the sector.

The launch of the fund follows on from Bridges Ventures' 2005 report
entitled "Equity-like Capital for Social Ventures"
(http://www.bridgesventures.com/downloads/social_venture_fund.pdf),
which was based on its experiences and research in this area. The
report showed that successful social enterprises provide an innovative
means of making a sustained social impact in areas of society where
their help is much needed. As demonstrated by Café Direct, the Eden
Project and Fifteen Restaurant, the sector has enormous growth
potential, but many social enterprises need capital to develop and
they find raising investment appropriate to their needs to be a major
obstacle.

The report also identified the need to give support to social
enterprises to help them attract funding, and Bridges Ventures will
work closely with UnLtd, the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs to
make sure that social entrepreneurs seeking funding are investment
ready.

Sir Ronald Cohen, Founding Chairman of Bridges Ventures said:

"The development of social enterprises is being held back by a chronic
shortage of long-term capital. The launch of the Bridges Social
Entrepreneurs Fund is an important development in addressing their
long-term investment needs."

Jonathan Kestenbaum, Chief Executive of NESTA added:

"We believe the fund will change the landscape for investment in
social enterprises. In particular, the blend of public, private and
institutional capital will have radical implications for the field".

Antony Ross, Director of the Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund commented:

"We are delighted to be launching this innovative fund and are looking
forward to helping ambitious social entrepreneurs build their
enterprises. The fund will be able to draw on Bridges Ventures'
established networks, experience and resources in reviewing
opportunities, supporting investments and reporting to investors on
both social and financial returns, and we hope that we will be able to
establish a sustainable funding model capable of providing
intelligent, much needed finance to an important and overlooked
sector."

- Ends -

Fund enquiries:

Social enterprises looking for growth capital, and investors
interested in supporting the fund, should contact:

Antony Ross / Skye Elliott
antony@bridgesventures.com skye@bridgesventures.com
020 7298 0189 020 7298 0182
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