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Social ventures powered up with £600,000 of investment

Twelve Scottish social ventures will receive £600,000 investment and business support from Big Issue Invest.

Big Issue Invest’s Power Up, a lending scheme offering investment and support to early stage social ventures across Scotland, was first launched in November 2017 and has supported 18 social business to date with a total of £950,000 of investment.

The programme​ is funded by partners, Aberdeen Standard Investments, University of Edinburgh, Experian, Places for People and the Scottish Government with legal support from Brodies LLP.

Invisible Cities were one of 12 social ventures that successfully completed the three month Power Up Programme in 2019. The Scottish social enterprise trains local people who have experienced homelessness to become walking tour guides of their own cities. Until the investment from Big Issue Invest, Invisible Cities was 100% volunteer lead. Now they have a team of 4 staff – 2 full time and 2 part time. They have a total of 12 guides across Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Manchester and have recruited York and Cardiff as two franchise cities.

Zakia Moulaoui, Founder, Invisible Cities, said:

By taking part in the Big Issue Invest programme, Invisible Cities has grown from a small Edinburgh based team to a multi-location social enterprise with a plan! The support and mentoring was invaluable, with results we see every day in our work, plus connections we could have never made on our own. As a leader it has made me really dig into the reasons why we do what we do and be very clear on what we want to achieve in the future.

Social enterprises that were supported in 2020 included Blank Faces, a fashion brand tackling homelessness, Social Stories Club, who create socially-conscious gift hampers that have a positive social impact and Eat Sleep Ride, a social enterprise offering therapy of horse riding to develop self-esteem, communication and social skills in those who need help.

Karis Gill, Director at Social Stories Club, said:

Power Up has been amazing for us, as it has pushed us to the next stage. We’ve been paired up with mentors and had the most phenomenal expertise and insight into the corporate market. For a small business, this has been truly invaluable.

The Power Up programme is open to organisations across Scotland. The funding available is to enable organisations to build on the good work they currently do within their communities. Whether it’s buying equipment, hiring new talent, or progressing with business development plans. Successful applicants will also receive mentoring and business development support to social ventures for the two year period.

If you are a local social enterprise or charity looking for investment, you can apply for the chance to be selected to pitch before our selection panel consisting of Power Up Scotland partners in 2021. For more information visit www.bigissueinvest/powerup to register your interest.

Image: Big Issue / Jamie McFayden Photography

About the author

Founder Member of Campaign Collective, chair of the Public Relations & Communications Association Charity and Not-For-Profit Group. Write mainly about charity, public sector and social enterprise communications.