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Social finance in the UK: designing the experience for ventures

Social finance in the UK: designing the experience for ventures

7 April 2014

Social Finance in the UK: designing the experience for ventures is a qualitative research project in collaboration with Cabinet Office to outline the needs of social ventures when accessing funding.

The report is the outcome of the first two phases of our four phase design process (Discover and Define). We aim to now move towards the Development and Implementation stages which will involve collaboration with a number of other organisations.

The report identifies seven key needs from the point of view of social ventures – but also takes into account the funders’ perspective.

These key needs are:

  1. The middle stage gap
    (ventures struggle to fund themselves when they have an initial service or product, but aren't yet ready to move towards scale or rapid growth)
  2. Lack of skills crossover between funders and ventures
  3. Ventures feel funding criteria and decisions are opaque
  4. Wasted time on applications
  5. Language barrier for 'not social enterprise'
    (some ventures are excluding themselves from sources of funding they perceive as 'not for them' because they don't consider themselves to be social enterprises)
  6. Understanding different funding routes upfront
  7. Repayable finance seen as too risky for ventures

We transformed each of the needs into a question that we hope will invite new solutions:

  1. How might we… stretch the boundaries of the stage at which ventures can be funded?
  2. How might we… facilitate funders to make greater use of skills from ventures?
  3. How might we… help social ventures understand the outcomes of funding applications in order for them to learn and develop?
  4. How might we… remove overlapping processes for the application stage of funding opportunities?
  5. How might we… attract ‘not social enterprise’ to the social finance landscape?
  6. How might we… enable ventures to understand and consider different funding routes rather than just the one that is most familiar?
  7. How might we… create more flexible repayment options for ventures that do not have assets like a building?

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