VIDEO: Yorkshire's Key Fund to invest £10m in 300 worthy projects

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A Yorkshire based community and social enterprise investment organisation is seeking 300 worthy projects to pump £10M into them in the next three years.

Key Fund, which made the announcement as it opened new offices in Sheffield, is the North of England’s longest-standing specialist investor in community and social enterprises,.

VIDEO: Watch our interview with Key Fund CEO Matt Smith below and for more on how Key Fund works check out the official YouTube video - CLICK HERE.

It now aims to invest in 100 enterprises per year, for the next three years.

Key Fund was established in 1999 to help to address social issues created by the demise of major industries in communities across South Yorkshire.

It now provides investment support to community and social enterprises operating across the North and Midlands and has developed into the most prolific social investor in England.

To date it has invested over £40m in more that 2,000 organisations, enabling them to make real impacts in disadvantaged communities.

Key Fund can support a range of activities, from restoring a derelict building to buying equipment or meeting start-up costs. It also helps existing enterprise that need to adapt and shift focus, or create a new service. It can help with immediate cash-flow problems or working capital.

From Derby to the borders of Scotland, Key Fund can provide investment of between £5,000 and £150,000.

The £10M of new funds was announced as Key Fund opened new offices at Jessops Riverside, on Brightside Lane - including a £5.5M Northern Impact Fund, supported by Access, the Foundation for Social Investment, with funding from Big Society Capital and the Big Lottery Fund.

Additionally, Key Fund have also secured £4.5m of new finance direct from Big Society Capital, to support general investment activity.

The announcement was made along with a brand re-vamp and sharing of its Social Impact Report 2015/16.

The last year saw Key Fund invest a total of £10m in 201 enterprises, which received funds ranging from £5k to £300k. The investments created 37 new businesses, created 293 jobs and safeguarded 188 jobs.

Matt Smith, CEO of Key Fund, said: “Our Social Impact Report demonstrates what a significant impact the sector has.

"There are inspiring businesses and individuals, who are not only generating jobs in some of the most disadvantaged communities, but are also tackling deep-rooted social issues.

"We’re now looking for 300 more community and social enterprises to come forward over the next three years, whether they are start-ups or existing enterprises looking to expand, diversify or grow.”

Key Fund’s mission is to invest in enterprise that makes a real difference to local communities. All its investments are made to enterprises turned down by mainstream finance providers, particularly those in areas of disadvantage with a high social impact.

Matt Smith added: “We’re incredibly proud of our work, and the impact that our investees have on the lives of people in need. We know just how difficult it is to run an enterprise that attempts to balance commercial and financial targets, as just like our clients, we are a Social Enterprise too. Our passion for this work and commitment to our mission has never been stronger.”

One of the enterprises who attended the Key Fund launch event was East Street Arts, who received a £110,000 loan to renovate a building in Leeds and create a residential Art Hostel and creative hub.

Nicola Greenan, External Relations Director for the Art Hostel, said: “Even though it’s a strong business model because it’s completely new and we’re a charity, it was difficult to get high street lending, especially in the current economic climate. Without Key Fund’s support, the project wouldn’t have happened.”

Catering at the launch event was provided by another Key Fund client, Eudaimonia who operates Super Kitchen and provides outside and event catering. It delivers affordable, healthy ‘social’ eating to help address social isolation and improve community health. Those who can’t afford to pay, can volunteer their services in return for food.

Key Fund invested £90,000 loan to support the purchase a vehicle and ancillary equipment.

Steve Ralf, Chairman of Eudaimonia, said: “Without the money and support from the Key Fund we could not have expanded the Super Kitchen model. Our bank wouldn’t support us but the Key Fund were very keen to help. They came over, went through the figures, helped with the application forms and I was very surprised how quickly it happened, it really worked well. We now have five vehicles on the road supporting our work and without the Key Fund we wouldn’t be here today, you can’t say more than that.”To find out more or apply for the Northern Impact Fund, visit

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