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Seed Funding

Investment and Contract Readiness Fund

The Walsall Social Enterprise Zone is partnering with East side to support applications to the ICRF.

What is the Investment and Contract Readiness Fund?

This is a cabinet office programme managed by The Social Investment Business. The fund gives grants to social ventures of between £50-£150k to become investment or contract ready to support growth strategies that lead to either the requirement for £500k social investment or delivery of new contracts worth £1m+. The fund has 130 grants to give away by 2015.

The Social venture (you) and the fund approved provider (us) are to work in partnership to submit an application and then deliver the plan over an approximately 12-18 month period.

Criteria for social venture applicants

  1. Your organisation is based in and working in England.

  2. You are applying for a grant of between £50,000 and £150,000.

  3. Having considered the State Aid implications of seeking the ICRF grant the social venture is satisfied that the application, if successful, would be compliant.

  4. The proposed work is designed to prepare the social venture to raise investment of at least £500,000 (external returnable money) to develop services or win contracts of at least £1million and will be completed within 18 months.

  5. The grant requested will be used solely to fund costs associated with becoming investment and/or contract ready.

  6. The grant requested will be used primarily to fund revenue costs, with no expenditure on capital items with a value in excess of £5,000.

  7. The proposal for which you are seeking funding is neither religious nor party political in nature (to be clear, this does not exclude faith groups).

What can funds be spent on?

Up to 40% can be spent on internal operational costs, no single capital outlay can be made over £5k. Rest is spent on funding specialist support from approved providers.

Examples of expenditure:

  • Extra staffing costs

  • Small capital purchases under 5k

  • Business plan development

  • Project management

  • Marketing and business development

  • Supporting costs of an acquisition

  • Supporting costs of developing bidding consortia.

  • Supporting costs of developing new systems

  • Supporting costs of developing better governance

Please note: funding is for direct investment readiness costs relating to your plan and is not to support current operational or business development costs of the organisation.

What are its aims and objectives?

It has been believed for a long time that there is not enough social ventures reaching scale and, that social investors are out there but lack good deal flow that is truly investment ready. The fund aims to create a see change in this scenario and support social ventures with the vision and ability to grow. It aims to create better networks and connections between social ventures and the social investment community.

How is it set up?

Financed by The Cabinet Office, run by The Social Investment Business, the fund is overseen by a group of social investors including, Big Society Capital, Bridges Ventures, Triodos Bank, CAF Venturesome, Nesta. There are approximately 13 investors. For a full list see

The Investors make up a panel that sits every fortnight to review applications and progress in the organisations that have received grants.

The fund has a liaison officer that Providers can approach with questions and queries right through the process.

Relationship between Social Venture and Provider?

A social venture has to choose an approved Provider to approach the fund with. Although you need 1 lead provider to approach the fund, during your delivery you can use other providers for part of your support.

What is the application process?

The application is an online form that requires a number of appendices. Overall it aims to understand the history of your organisation, your prospects for growth, your investment story and if you are a good candidate for support. Together we will need to create a project plan that shows what work is happening when. Applications are reviewed on a regular rolling basis.

Next steps


STEP 1: Basic questions to ask yourself.
Do we meet the mandatory criteria mentioned above?
Do we have objectives to grow?
Do we have a basic plan of how we want to do this that needs further professional support?
Will the plan require future social investment and / or mean taking on contracts worth £1m+?
If it does mean taking on contracts, have we pinpointed what they are?
If it's yes to above then this funding programme might well be valuable to you.

STEP 2: Go to the website and further understand the fund.

Eastside: Solutions For Social Change 

STEP 3: Contact Eastside

Either call us on 0207 250 8440 0207 250 8440 or email Matt Knopp

The Eastside approach

Once you have approached Eastside, we will discuss with you your organisation and its plans for growth. We might at this point ask for some further clarity particularly around markets, customers and viability but appreciate that this will not be fully developed. Our aim is to be able to confidently approach the fund with a proposition that demonstrates potential for scale once supported over the next year.

Once we are all happy that we wish to complete an application we will start to develop this in partnership.

Impact Bond

Allia Bond

Allia: The Social Profit Society 

The Walsall Social Enterprise Zone is working with Allia to create a Social Impact bond tailed to support social entrepreneurial activity in the Black Country.

Allia is a charitable organisation that creates opportunities for people to invest their money for social benefit. Allia creates opportunities to raise investment from individual and corporate investors for organisations delivering social benefit. As a charitable Society, Allia's mission is to work with partners to grow the social investment market and make a social profit.

Many investors today are looking for more than just a financial return. They want to make ethical investments which make a positive impact on the world around them. At the same time, there are many charities and social ventures looking at new ways of financing their activities and developing models to attract investment in order to deliver social benefits.

In this growing social investment market, Allia creates opportunities to connect investors with social organisations that need finance. As a charitable Society, our goal isn't to create dividends for shareholders or bonuses for our staff. It's to get more money into this market so that more people can have a better future. We work with a wide range of charities, investors, intermediaries and partners in the public and private sector.

If you'd like to know more about the Allia in the Black Country or Allia in general please you can call Allia on 0845 456 2431 or email us at

Money Advice

Walsall Money Advice Project

Based in the zones Goldmine Hub The Walsall Money Advice Project operates an advice and advocacy service for anyone living or working in the borough of Walsall. A unique service taking money advice into the homes of those in need. Advice is offered on a wide range of matters including welfare benefits, debt counselling, energy advice etc.

WMAP has helped to gain thousands of pounds of unclaimed benefits for clients and is assisting scores of people to take steps to get out of debt. The project grew out of a simple offer to help people who were having difficulty with form filling.

WMAP helpline: 01922 623292, 01922 623292