Broadly, social investment refers to repayable finance which is invested to achieve a social purpose, such as having some kind of positive impact on the community. This may be a loan to be repaid in full, often with interest, a ‘blended finance’ offer which is part grant and part loan, or not require any repayment, on the understanding that the investment will have social benefits.

This kind of loan can be suitable for community food projects and enterprises, as social investment organisations often offer additional support to help projects become ‘investment ready’.

See Good Finance for extensive information on social investment and sources of funding.

Additionally, Access - The Foundation for Social Investment offer extensive support to charities and social enterprises to increase access to social investment, including support programmes, funding and blended finance. This includes a five-year Enterprise Development Programme supporting the transition to or growth of enterprise models.

National social investors to explore include:

Regional social investors to explore include:

For the purposes of this work, Sustain has also focussed on exploring the role of Housing Associations/Social Landlords and local authorities as social investors, providing financial and/or in kind resource to organisations which offer social benefits to residents. In many cases, they do not require repayment and function more as a grant or startup investment to set up projects which will deliver impact to residents in their housing estates or in the borough.

For examples of community food projects partnering with councils and housing associations, see our case studies page.

Good Food Enterprise: Working to provide food that is good for people and the planet, and support local production playing a part in community beyond trading.

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Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.

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