A Healthy Happy Birthday!
A year ago this week, Resonance launched a fund to support enterprise growth in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset, the “Health & Wellbeing Challenge Fund”. As the name suggests we set the Fund up as a Challenge to the status quo in the Health sector, but also a Challenge to Social Enterprises to be a part of the solution. As the Fund celebrates its first birthday, I have reflected on a busy and productive year.
“The first year of a child’s life is an immense challenge: from the moment they arrive in the world, they are subjected to continuing change. They arrive with little more than potential, but through learning, connecting, and creating, they quickly become an engaging and rewarding toddler.
Our first year has felt similar, in more ways than one – a few sleepless nights, meeting amazing new people, learning and adapting constantly. We launched the Fund last summer, and since then have connected with over 200 social enterprises in the region, leading to a number of funding offers, funding deployments, and a healthy pipeline for the balance of our deployment period to summer 2020.
Yes it has been a challenge for us as well as for the social enterprises but Tom, Claire and our support team are immensely proud of the impact our investments have made to date, accelerating the growth and sustainability of local Social Enterprises such as Hollywell and Karrek, building bridges between them and others, and maybe even just beginning to scratch permanent changes to the system.
But what of our investees, actual and potential? How has the year been for them? It might be helpful to explain challenges of the barriers to deploying social investment we’ve encountered, together with how we have scaled them:
- LEARNING: Supporting Enterprises through the investment process
Typically, our potential investees are small organizations with limited resources. Those working in these organizations are superb at providing the service or product, but may have less experience when it comes to providing the information we need to support our investment process, such as development of detailed financial forecasts. Enter the brilliant Reach Fund, that provides grant funding to investees in our pipeline to enable them to seek professional advice and support to assist them in the process. Thank you Deborah and team for your patience and support to our VCSEs and to us.
- CONNECTING: Aspirations of management and board
Sometimes, the operations team might have brilliant ideas as to how their organizations might scale, but they don’t even entertain the idea of taking on Social Investment as “the board would never let us”. Here’s where Big Society Capital’s new initiative “Get Informed” can help, through knowledge share, networking and mentoring boards, to help them explore how Social Investment might work for them.
- CREATING: The power of the [Social] Network
We are a new Fund in a new market. But there are some amazing infrastructure and membership organizations that have helped us link quickly into the local Social Enterprise network by offering us a platform to speak to their members, at events, seminars and workshops. Hats off to you SWAHSN, CoLab, Plymouth VCSE, PSEN, Essence, Engine Room, SSE Cornwall and SSE Dartington amongst others, for sharing our hopes and ambition to invest for impact in this region. You have created many opportunities for us, and your generous inclusivity has been much appreciated.
If you are involved in, or know of, any South West Social Enterprises that might be interested in finding out more about the Health & Wellbeing Challenge Fund, please let us know through our dedicated enquiry form, or give us a call. Here’s to continued growth!”