Big Issue Invest has today launched its Power Up programme. The lending scheme will offer investment and mentoring support to up to 15 early stage social ventures across the Midlands.

Power Up, pioneered by Big Issue Invest (BII), is funded by Barclays with investment coming from Power to Change, Experian and Big Issue Invest Trust.

The funding available is to enable community-led businesses to build on the good work they currently do within their communities. Successful applicants will also receive mentoring and business development support for the year-long period.

John Montague, Managing Director of Group Operations at The Big Issue, says, “Following the success of our launch of the Power Up programme in Scotland last year, we are excited to be piloting it in the Midlands. The region has been historically underinvested in, with a heavy reliance on the manufacturing and retail industries.

“Therefore, a high number of early-stage social ventures have found it difficult to access small to medium-sized loans. Working in partnership with Barclays, Power to Change and Experian, we hope to be able to support those organisations with the investment and business development expertise that will enable them to make an even greater difference within their communities.”

John Ainsworth, Head of SME for Barclays in the Midlands said: “As a bank with Midlands roots stretching back over two centuries, Barclays is wholeheartedly committed to the success of this region. We are delighted to be supporting the Power Up pilot in the Midlands, not only through funding but also through mentoring and the sharing of expertise from our colleagues. These early-stage social businesses will add real and significant value to society in the future, as well as create future employment opportunities. It is vital to help them to succeed and fulfil their full potential.

Earlier this year we demonstrated further commitment to economic and business growth in the Midlands region, with the announcement of a £370m fund for SMEs for investment to drive regional growth and create jobs.”

Mark Gordon, Director of Communications and Partnerships at Power to Change said: “We are delighted to contribute towards this exciting new fund. We already support some fantastic community businesses in the region and we believe there is a huge amount of untapped talent in the Midlands which could really benefit from this new project. We hope that Power Up will empower even more people in the Midlands to improve their own communities from the bottom up.”

Tom Blacksell, Managing Director of B2B at Experian, said: “The Midlands has the talent and ideas to create social ventures which will drive real changes in communities. We’re excited to be working with The Big Issue Invest and Barclays to share some of our experience and offer advice to the people behind these plans to help them get their ventures off to the strongest possible start.”

The programme has been designed for early-stage social ventures including social enterprises, charities, and private enterprises. The key criterion is social value creation. The expectation is that many applicants will be accessing finance for the first time.

The scheme builds on BII’s significant expertise in social venture investment, which since its launch in 2005 has seen the organisation directly invest over £30 million in more than 300 social ventures.

Applications for Power Up open June 28th. Visit our website to read more or go directly to the application form to register your interest.