Region’s social enterprises thrive thanks to increasing investment

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SOCIAL ENTERPRISES in Yorkshire received more than £2m in investment last year from the sector’s largest backer alone.

Key Fund, which supports social enterprises through the UK, invested £2.1m in Yorkshire and Humber in the last 12 months, according to figures released to mark Social Enterprise Day.

One in five start-ups is now socially-driven, Key Fund said. There are 180,000 in the UK, contributing £24bn to the economy, according to its figures.

Since its launch, Key Fund - which is itself a social enterprise - has invested £33m in 2,200 organisations, with only 4.4 per cent failure rate.

All of its investments are to entrepreneurs turned down by traditional lenders because they have no assets or are considered high risk. More than 78 per cent of investments are in the top 25 per cent of the most deprived areas in the UK. Its funding has created 1,156 jobs and safeguarded 1,513 positions.

Sam Tarff, chief executive of Key Fund, said: “I think the message on Social Enterprise Day is to really raise awareness that it isn’t a niche sector, it’s simply ethical but successful and profitable business that entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes and from all industries are embracing.

“Social Enterprises empowers local communities to take control of their economic destiny, or simply puts people and the planet before profit.”

This week, eight social enterprises from Yorkshire were awarded a total of £45,000 cash from banking giant Santander.

The bank’s Social Enterprise Development Awards recognise the work of social enterprises and trading charities. Winners receive between £2,500 and £20,000 to support a specific growth project that will help the impact of their social enterprise.

Santander regional director Neil Williams said: “There are some truly outstanding enterprises and charities from across the region.

“We hope that the funding and support programme will help them reach their potential and increase their social impact.”

The winners included Re-read, a Doncaster-based organisation that recycles unwanted books with the help of volunteers from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Bradford’s Solutions for the Planet, which helps to develop Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills and experience for young people, was also recognised. Halifax-based Love Bread Community Kitchen holds bread making workshops to improve the wellbeing of the local community.

Historic arts and events venue Left Bank Leeds was also a recipient of an award, along with Emmaus Hull, a charity supporting local homeless people by providing training and employment.

Launched in 2011, the Social Enterprise Development Awards have provided more than £5m in awards to over 300 social enterprises nationwide.