First £500,000 leaves North East Social Investment Fund under Peter Gilson's leadership

The Northstar Ventures investment manager is leading the £9m Fund, which aims to develop voluntary and community organisations and social enterprise

www.crestphotography.co.uk Peter Gilson, investment manager at Northstar Ventures
Peter Gilson, investment manager at Northstar Ventures

The first portion of the new £9m North East Social Investment Fund has been handed to a Newcastle social enterprise, under the leadership of Northstar Ventures’ Peter Gilson.

Mr Gilson has been appointed to lead the new fund which has already invested £500,000 via a social impact bond into an unnamed Newcastle social enterprise.

The experienced investment manager, who has previously worked for national social investors the Social Investment Business, said he is particularly keen to hear from North East organisations who are adapting their business models to become sustainable in the face of public funding cuts.

Under the remit of the fund, Mr Gilson wants to aid the development and expansion of voluntary and community organisations and social enterprises, and to improve their social impact.

Mr Gilson said: “I’d like hear from organisations that are looking for repayable social investment, particularly those looking to change their models and introduce additional income to replace public funding which may have stopped in recent years.

“As an example, we’re talking to an organisation that focuses on reducing unemployment. We may help them to fund some new premises. They’re looking bank funding with a 70% loan-to-value ratio, and therefore need to make up the difference. This is a great example of where we can come in and help.”

As the first of its kind in the region, the Fund is supported by £5.25m from Big Society Capital, £3m from the Northern Rock Foundation and £750,000 from The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

The fund will invest amounts varying from £100,000 to £1m according to the individual organisation’s needs, to normally be repaid within five and 10 years, with no penalties for early repayment.

Investments will generally be in the form of loans, but may also be quasi equity or social impact bonds.

While there are criteria for the potential investees, Mr Gilson urged any interested organisations to get in touch, so the Fund can maximise its impact in the region.

He explained: “Just talking to organisations and being able to refer them on to the right people would be classed as a success for the Fund. We want to make some great investments but this is about much more than just getting money out of the door.”

Mr Gilson added: “I really want to hear from organisations, which have a strong passion to improve their social impact in areas such as homelessness, poverty, debt, health and social care, unemployment or the regeneration of deprived communities.

“The advantage of a repayable investment from the North East Social Investment Fund is that it can be used wherever it’s most needed to develop the organisation.

“That may be the purchase of new premises, covering operational costs, strengthening working capital, or a combination of those.”

Earlier this year Northstar Ventures was appointed to manage the Fund by the North East Social Investment Company, a limited liability partnership through which Big Society Capital and Northern Rock Foundation have provided capital.

The Fund will be steered by a board featuring representatives from both organisations along with Andrew Mitchell from North East Finance, as well as figures from the regional social business scene.

To find out more about the North East Social Investment Fund or to make an application, call Peter on 0191 2292786, email him atpeter@northstarventures.co.uk or visit http://www.northstarventures.co.uk/our-funds/social-investment-fund/ .

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