The continued impact of our SE-Assist Fund portfolio during the Covid-19 crisis

The SE-Assist Fund, managed by CAF Venturesome and funded by Legal & General has, over the last 8 years, offered 44 small social enterprises across Wales, Greater Brighton/Sussex and Croydon interest free social investment loans up to £30,000. We currently have 24 social enterprises in the portfolio.

As the Fund supports early stage social enterprises we know that some of them will be greatly impacted by the current Covid-19 crisis.  The CAF Venturesome team is very busy, working remotely, to ensure our portfolio of social enterprises and charities have the support they need at this worrying time. It has become clear that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on many of our portfolio organisations is significant and we are working through how we can help with capital repayment holidays and additional loan finance. We are also signposting our investees to emergency grant funding and support loan schemes.  A full list is kept up to date on the CAF Covid-19 hub, our friends at Good Finance are doing all they can to help social enterprises find the right support for their organisation and Business Wales are listing Wales specific support.

The SE-Assist Fund, being locally-based, ensures that the support offered is responsive to the needs of the community. In addition to financial support, working with our local delivery partners, we offer our investees the option of an experienced business mentor.

We have made four rounds of social investments in Wales where £585k has been lent, with an overall capital commitment of over £1m across all regions of the SE-Assist fund. SE-Assist is privileged to have Business in the Community CymruInstitute of Directors WalesWales Co-operative CentreWelsh Government alongside, our founding partner and majority funder, Legal & General as members of our Social Investment Committee in Wales.

In Greater Brighton/Sussex and Croydon we have been supported by Coast to Capital, the Goodall Foundation, the Pebble Trust, Brighton & Hove City Council, Croydon Council, and the Platform as well as our main funder, Legal & General.

In response to the current crisis our SE-Assist Investment Committee for Wales, met, via video, twice in April and we have been able to approve nine capital repayment holidays. The committee provided them with some extremely useful and essential guidance on funding and support available for organisations based in Wales. Our Brighton/Croydon/Sussex Investment Committee has also approved further repayment holidays. 

Our investees are continuing their important work

Book of You is Wales based social enterprise that has created a new type of book that uses the proven benefits of reminiscence therapy using words, pictures, music and film. It brings family, friends and carers together in one place to show who a person was and who they are now. Primarily set up to help people living with dementia, the Book of You helps all sorts of people, including older people living in assisted accommodation and young adults with learning disabilities. During this very difficult time where the one thing at the forefront of everybody’s mind is coronavirus, the Book of You is still working, as digital providers, to support their clients remotely. They have had to suspend their face to face work but are sharing videos on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter with advice and tips of things people can do with loved ones during this time of isolation. Book of You was designed to help with loneliness and isolation – bringing families together wherever they are in the world – and what better time to share this aspect of work with the wider community.

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