Community interest company ‘SoFab Sports’ is the first social enterprise to receive £100,000 investment from the Resonance South West Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) Fund following its recent geographical extension into the wider South West.
What started as family-run football training sessions has quickly expanded into a widely recognized Gloucestershire-based social enterprise, boosting the skills, confidence and self-esteem of young adults with physical and learning disabilities. So far, an estimated 400 young people have been helped.
Often playing sport for the first time, these sessions give young, disadvantaged people the chance to be part of a team. Nathan has severe epilepsy and is an active football player. He is also trained as a coach thanks to SoFab Sports: “I’ve gained skills in areas I didn’t know I had, like teamwork, leadership and self-esteem”, he said. The flexible and open-minded approach to the sessions is extremely effective, making them accessible to everyone.
But SoFab’s work goes beyond the pitch in the form of its sportswear shop in Gloucester and its online eBay marketplace store. Its retail outlets sell high quality, end-of-line sportswear for brands including Under Armour, Nike and Adidas. Products are sold at heavily reduced prices and all profits are invested back into the business, which enables SoFab to achieve its social mission of inclusive sport and employment for all.
SoFab’s supportive and sustainable employment opportunities also enable the young people it employs to develop transferable skills and experience and gain vocational qualifications. So far thirty-two first time jobs have been created, twenty of which have been taken up by individuals with physical or learning disabilities. Additionally, seventeen young people have moved successfully into mainstream employment.
Shop manager Scotty Johnson, who was born with severe cerebral palsy, has grown in confidence immeasurably, and has since moved out from care into fully independent living. He is now a key peer role model for a 16-year-old volunteer. “People stare at me in the street because of the way I walk,” says Scotty, “but Dale [the Operations Director*] sees me as an ordinary person, and I don’t get judged here, which is nice.”
Enhancing the community’s attitude towards social inclusion is also a big part of the mission. Providing a unique and rewarding customer experience, the sports warehouse in Gloucester is the main focus of Resonance’s investment. This will help expand the online sportswear retailer through the creation of more job opportunities, as well as purchasing more stock and warehouse essentials.
SoFab Co-Founder and CEO Chris Rawlins said: “This investment will take our already sustainable business to a new level with an increased turnover within the top 10% of social enterprises nationally. More importantly, the profit generated will create jobs for those furthest from employment and having a deep and lasting impact for generations to come.”
Katalin Juhasz, Investment Manager at Resonance explained: “This is the first investment from the wider South West region following the recent geographical extension of the Fund. The £100,000 investment will enable SoFab Sports’ online retail outlet to remain key to its strategy and enable it to provide more sustainable and inclusive employment opportunities for young, local adults with physical and learning disabilities. The investment will also offer SoFab opportunities to increase and diversify their sportswear and sports equipment lines.”
The Resonance South West SITR Fund is a pioneering social impact investment fund aimed at helping to dismantle poverty in the South West by investing in local social enterprises. It takes advantage of social investment tax relief (SITR) to simultaneously lower the cost of loans for enterprises and to enable a competitive return to investors.
Resonance Limited is a company registered in England and Wales no. 04418625
Resonance Impact Investment Limited, a subsidiary of Resonance Limited, is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Firm number 588462.
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