Impact in the Bearpit

The Resonance Bristol SITR Fund has made its fifth investment of £112,000 into social enterprise Bearpit Bristol, a community interest company focused on regenerating the St James Roundabout area using food retail and targeted community events. The investment enables three existing social enterprises to come together and strengthen their presence and commitment to the local community in this area. This will in turn further open up this space to create a community hub, draw in more events, and make the area busier, safer and more attractive to both the local community and visitors.

The Resonance Bristol SITR Fund, which was set up to support social enterprises that work to intentionally dismantle poverty in Bristol and the surrounding areas, has invested in the Bearpit Bristol CIC, a mere four months from meeting the directors for the first time. The investment team was impressed by the management team in place, their clearly defined impact and the structure they have chosen to move forward – a community interest company – which demonstrates that the business is there for the community.

Three established Bearpit catering businesses have merged to create the Bearpit Bristol CIC to align their operations through a shared commercial kitchen and developing a delivery service. They also intend to run events that will promote diversity and inclusivity. They will work with suppliers to source local and sustainable options for the food and adopt smart business practice, as profitability is key to the sustainability of their success.

The increase in trading activities aims to reduce and suppress antisocial and criminal activity by creating a safe and welcoming destination and the improvements will involve new jobs and a training programme to equip people from disadvantaged backgrounds with the skills and experience to help them better succeed in the working world.

Cabinet Member for Place at Bristol City Council, Cllr Helen Holland, said: “We recognise the hard work by Bearpit Bristol CIC to make their businesses succeed – and bring life to the Bearpit in sometimes challenging circumstances. Congratulations to them for their success in winning this investment from Resonance which will further assist Bearpit Bristol’s ability to play a fundamental role in making this space a part of the city that can grow and be enjoyed by everyone.”

The Bearpit Banquet hosted Friday, 2 September 2016 will go down as a Bearpit milestone and a great example of how Bearpit Bristol CIC can make a difference, breaking down barriers between

the different users of the Bearpit. Over 200 locals sat down to a community feast together in the centre of the Bearpit. Laughter, music and conversation caught the late afternoon sun, and it became clear how people could transform this space into a welcoming, safe and uniquely Bristol destination. Bristol Banquet was created by Bearpit Social (one of the three businesses forming Bearpit Bristol CIC) and Bristol Biennial and partnered with 91 Ways to Build a Global City, and Saffron Records to make it happen.
Resonance Investment Manager Katalin Juhasz, who worked closely with Bearpit Bristol CIC to make this investment, said of the deal: “This is a great example for social enterprises that need investment to grow their impact. This kind of capital is an effective and appropriate source of investment for growing social enterprises like the Bearpit Bristol CIC, which is a revenue generating business with a clear social focus, taking on repayable capital on reasonable terms.

“Our investment committee was particularly impressed with the impact of this enterprise – a growing food service business that at the same time is deeply rooted in the community, with an intentional and driven commitment to dismantling poverty. The directors have experience in running and growing a business and so the committee felt confident that the investment would generate both the social and financial returns that are necessary to make the business prosper and have a positive impact on the local area.”

The directors of Bearpit Bristol CIC work together as a peer group, which is a rather refreshing dynamic, bringing together a mix of skills and interests. They have started their journey in this space in collaboration with the Bearpit Improvement Group, which was set up to transform the St James Roundabout area. Bearpit Bristol CIC is now building on the successes to date by taking on this direct investment to ensure sustainability in the years to come.

Miriam Delogu, director representing the Bearpit Bristol CIC said: “We are delighted at the quick and timely response from the Resonance Bristol SITR Fund, which has shown that they can align the investment to the need and speed of enterprises when it is required. We had worked hard to make sure we had the right structure for our business, namely a Community Interest Company, and our ambition is to showcase Bristol’s first “Community Action Zone” – putting community and diversity at the heart of everything we do”.