Regional growth fund has huge benefit say Charities

Published on Tuesday, 01 November 2011 14:12
Posted by Scott Buckler

Among the 119 successful bids announced yesterday by Deputy PM Nick Clegg for the second round of the Regional Growth Fund is a partnership between registered charities Fredericks Foundation, offering loans to start-ups or expanding businesses refused loans by the banks, and the nationwide body bringing community projects and philanthropists together, the Community Foundation Network

Says Charles Dodwell, Fredericks Foundation CEO, “Our combined skills and experience have enabled us to put forward a successful and imaginative bid for funding, which will massively assist our work with small businesses across the country.

“Like us, Community Foundations are focused on doing good within the communities they serve, and we have found there to be many synergies between our organisations. Over the next few years, we plan to work together to create jobs and businesses in the areas that need it most.”

He continues, “As a CDFI, it is important that we work with the banks to ensure that nobody with a good business idea goes without the finance to make it happen. We are able to give people a hope where they thought they had none.

“With Fredericks’ tried and tested packages of loans, advice and support, businesses on the ground have every chance of success where previously they were looking at unemployment. And the local support will be rolled out across many of the community foundations across the UK where we currently have no presence.”

The RGF bid for £1.8m will leverage private investment to create a total available pool of more than £5m over the next four years to support lending to businesses across the country.

Fredericks Foundation’s work over the past decade has targeted both rural and deprived inner-city communities, and this project aims to impact on 31% of England's most deprived local authority areas. Through local Microfinance Hubs supported by business people with specialist knowledge and support in each region, the repaid loans are then recycled to continue financing more applicants.

Stephen Hammersley, Chief Executive of Community Foundation Network says, “We’re very excited to be working in partnership with Fredericks Foundation to develop a series of micro finance hubs across the UK which will support businesses run by people who have the ideas and resourcefulness to succeed, but to whom the commercial sector will not lend, and for whom seeking employment is particularly challenging".

The RGF money loaned through the partnership is predicted to create or safeguard as many as 2,700 jobs over the next ten years.

Prime Minister David Cameron launched one of the most recent Fredericks Hubs in Oxfordshire earlier this year, describing the model as reflecting the true aims of the Big Society. He told founder Paul Barry-Walsh he admired the fact that the Foundation is “not just trying to have an expanded loan book, you actually want to mentor and support and help new businesses, many of whom wouldn’t get a second’s chance if they walked through the doors of a high street bank.

“We’re looking forward to seeing you lending money and getting business going, firing up the engines of the private sector.”

The announcement yesterday offered government investment of nearly £1bn in UK businesses, with a further £6bn of private investment, following 492 bids - 119 successful - to the second round of the Regional Growth Fund project. This round of funding is set to create and protect more than 200,000 jobs across the UK, through local projects of different types and sizes set up to encourage enterprise, growth and jobs across both the private and public service


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