Big Issue Invest puts £40m into social enterprises

BIG ISSUE Invest (BII) has launched its 2020-2021 Impact Report. The social investment arm of The Big Issue supported 184 social enterprises across the UK with £39.7m AUM. Those social enterprises were in turn able to support some 1.16 million customers across the UK.

Of BII’s total investment portfolio, over 62 percent of the 184 investees of the past year are based in areas of high deprivation, including London, the north-east and north-west. And 20 percent of BII’s total portfolio is invested into organisations directly tackling inequality in the UK.

Big Issue Invest — social investment
Big Issue Invest — Outcomes Investment Fund. Photo: Big Issue

BII’s investments in Scotland, the north-east, east Midlands and the east of England have increased; £5m was invested in Scotland, with a major investment in the social-lettings agency Homes For Good. Another £1.7m was put into social enterprises in the east of England — a 667 percent increase.

Of the total investments, 16 percent support people living in poverty and/or financial exclusion, 11 percent support people in precarious housing or homeless, 12 percent go to vulnerable young people, 11 percent help the unemployment, and nine percent support people with mental health needs.

The top five UN SDGs contributed to were Good Health and Wellbeing (31 percent), Decent Work and Economic Growth (17.4 percent), Sustainable Cities and Communities (16.3 percent), Quality Education (10.3 percent), and Reduced Inequalities (8.2 percent).

The report showed that 9,490 people are employed by BII’s investees across the UK and provide 6,900 volunteering opportunities for people in local communities. It also revealed that 76 percent of investees focused their impact at a local level.

During the pandemic, BII provided £3.2m in grants across England as part of the National Lottery Community Fund’s Social Enterprise Support Fund. It supported the Resilience and Recovery Loan Fund to disburse £5.5m through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. It also allowed 61 percent of investees “repayment holidays”.

The report also laid out the foundations of a new BII strategy, entitled We Back Human Potential. It includes an ambitious target to increase the assets under BII management and advisory to over £500m by 2030.

Danyal Sattar, CEO of Big Issue Invest, said the organisation had been inspired by the responses of other social enterprises and charities. “I am proud of the Big Issue Invest team, who have worked tirelessly in supporting our investees to keep the lights on, adapt to new operating environments, and to continue to deliver impact to their customers.

“We were part of two major sector responses to the pandemic: the Social Enterprise Support Fund and the Resilience and Recovery Loan Fund. On top of this, we continued to support 180 organisations with £39.7m of investment.

“We will champion impact-first investing; we will push for social equality and we will provide a broader range of support that is ‘more than money’.

“Over the last 12 months, BII has continued to prioritise diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

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