A NEW £9m fund is open for business and aims to help tackle debt, homelessness and unemployment.
The North East Social Investment Fund has just been launched and now it is actively seeking applications from social enterprises across the region, including the Tees Valley.
The new loan fund has already been welcomed by Stephen Catchpole, the managing director of the local enterprise partnership Tees Valley Unlimited.
Mr Catchpole said: “We look forward to seeing the new fund stimulate social investment here in the Tees Valley.”
The North East Social Investment Company (NESIC) has appointed Northstar Ventures to manage the project.
Its aim will be to invest in voluntary and community organisations and social enterprises in the region, and create social change.
The new fund will be specifically looking to help with problems such as homelessness, debt and poverty, and improvement in health and social care needs.
It also wants to make a difference in mental health provision, offender rehabilitation, unemployment and the regeneration of deprived communities.
NESIC will be overseen by a board of leading business figures and community and voluntary sector representatives, and chaired by Andrew Mitchell, who is chief executive of North East Finance.
He said: “Our objective is to stimulate the growth of the social investment sector in the region.
“Organisations in the community and voluntary sectors will be able to borrow money from the fund, which will be repayable over an agreed term and re-invested in other social enterprises in the future.”
The North East Social Investment Fund was the brainchild of Northern Rock Foundation and Big Society Capital (BSC) and is the first regional fund of its kind in England to be set up with support from BSC.
Big Society Capital has invested £5.25m in the fund, Northern Rock Foundation has committed £3m and The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation has committed £750,000. The fund is also on the lookout for further investors to grow its size to a maximum of £11.5m with up to £1.25m of additional funding available from BSC to match the funding from new investors.