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South West Social Ventures Celebrate Growth Following Investment Programme

A major investment fund has helped three South West based social ventures to realise their next steps and grow their businesses through a specially created investment and loan programme.

The Seedbed Accelerator Programme, a £1.2 million investment programme launched in April 2015, has helped social ventures Eat That Frog CIC, Grow Bristol and Unique Voices CIC to expand their business through a range of measures including increased support, added services and new products.

The three social ventures have all completed the programme, receiving loan funding that will help them to take their next steps towards growth, with over £100,000 of loans available from Seedbed’s partner, SWIG Finance.

Eat That Frog, which helps people of all ages who are facing barriers in their lives, has recently opened two new centres in Newton Abbot and Torquay and recruited 12 new members of staff to launch their new ethical recruitment agency. Eat That Frog received a £50,000 loan through the Seedbed programme to grow their business.

Sean Westlake, Eat That Frog’s Business Development Director, spoke about his time with the Seedbed programme: “To further our social venture, we were looking for a programme that offered both support and loans to help us progress. The Seedbed programme was invaluable in helping us to focus our business plan and set a direction for our social venture. Since we started with Seedbed our expansion has been amazing and we believe that if social ventures use everything Seedbed offers, it will help them with important parts of their business.”

Another social venture to benefit from the Seedbed programme is Bristol-based Grow Bristol, a new urban farming venture that demonstrates the innovative and sustainable ways that food can be grown in cities. The venture joined Seedbed to help scale up their business and felt it was important to have the loan aspect alongside support.

Dermot O’Regan, Grow Bristol, explained the role that Seedbed has played in growing his venture: “Working with Seedbed provided us with a great insight in to our business and how we could get to where we wanted to be. The support programme included workshops and invaluable time with a dedicated business coach who helped us to set up a business plan before we applied for the loan. The best thing is that Seedbed is there to help you as much as you need; it’s up to you.”

Another Bristol-based venture has also received loan support from Seedbed. Using drama and arts as a medium to make a positive social impact, Unique Voices CIC is a growing social venture that creates initiatives that allow people to learn, develop and grow in all aspects of their education.

Having helped over 50,000 young people so far, Unique Voices has plans to expand their geographical reach and help a further 100,000 young people to realise their potential through the £30,000 loan from Seedbed.
Krystal Keeley was thrilled with the programme: “Seedbed has helped to unlock a gateway for us to achieve our expansion and plans for growth. The loan has also provided the necessary funds to grow our company alongside excellent business support.

“No one knows your business better than you. However, advice and support from those dedicated to helping social ventures will only help to make your business stronger and more prepared for future growth.”

Seedbed’s offering differentiates itself from other loan investments through its intensive support programme, which compliments the loan aspect and enables social ventures to create a lasting and viable business plan to move their social ventures forward. To date, Seedbed has helped over 30 social ventures to grow.

Places on the Seedbed programme are free due to joint investment by the Big Lottery’s Social Incubator Fund and project partners Dartington Hall Trust, Plymouth University and South West Investment Group.

Running until November 2016, there is still time for social ventures interested in Seedbed to join the programme. To find out more, arrange a call with director Dirk Rohwedder on 01803 847066. Alternatively, find out more by visiting www.seedbedenterprise.co.uk.



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