Bridges Evergreen Holdings
Evergreen is an innovative new permanent capital vehicle designed to provide patient capital and hands-on support to ambitious mission-led businesses.
Evergreen will make equity or quasi-equity investments in profit-with-purpose companies, public sector spin-outs, social sector organisations and employee-owned businesses that are looking for an engaged, mission-aligned partner.
Evergreen is the successor to the Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund, one of the first funds in the world designed specifically for investment in social businesses.
A long-term partnership
Mission-led organisations have a vital role to play in tackling some of the big challenges we face. But they often find it difficult to access the long-term funding and support they need to scale.
Evergreen allows us to be a long-term partner for these organisations. It is structured as a holding company rather than a fund, producing yield for investors via dividends and loan interest – so it has no requirement to seek exits. This means we can work with management teams over a much longer time horizon, drawing on our experience to provide strategic and operational support in addition to financial capital. Over time, this will help these organisations to grow faster and deliver more impact.
Backed by the Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund, HCT Group, is a social enterprise bus operator that uses its profits to provide community transport services and training.
In 2010, HCT raised a pioneering £4m round of social investment to help fund its ambitious growth plans and allow it to compete with private-sector providers. In the subsequent years, HCT was able to win a number of additional commercial contracts, helping it to almost double in size: total income was £45m for the 2015 financial year. It also surpassed all its social impact targets. As a result, it was able to provide a full and successful exit for its original social investors in 2015 (Bridges Ventures, Big Issue Invest, Futurebuilders and Rathbone), with a blended return of about 7%.
Since 2010, HCT has created more than 350 jobs, while supporting a further 390 individuals to obtain jobs in other companies as a result of the training or education it has delivered. It has increased commercial passenger numbers at a time when many other bus operators have seen a decline. It has provided over 1.1m passenger trips for disadvantaged individuals and used its surpluses to create new routes and services based on community need, mitigating barriers to access and reducing isolation for some of the most vulnerable in society.
Care And Share Associates (CASA)
CASA is an employee-owned social enterprise that provides high-quality domiciliary and complex health and social care to the elderly, disabled and vulnerable.
The Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund backed CASA in 2011, investing £400k via an innovative form of quasi-equity, whereby the investor gets repaid if the borrower meets various growth and impact targets. CASA was able to do this so successfully that it was recently able to raise a second round of social investment, led by Big Issue Invest.
When Bridges invested in CASA, it provided about 4,500 hours of care a week. Four years on, they were providing over 16,000 hours of care a week – a rise of almost 250%. At the time of exit, CASA employed more than 700 people, with over 93% of employees drawn from underserved areas according to the Index of Multiple Deprivation.
CASA’s innovative employee ownership model enabled staff to have a greater say in how the business was run, to gain access to better training and to share in its financial success, leading to more rewarding jobs. This in turn has led to a better quality of care for service users: about 80% of care visits are delivered by ‘key carers’, while staff turnover has been about one-third lower than the average for private sector care companies.
The investment came at a critical time for CASA and enabled us to achieve a step-change in our growth… Bridges has provided hands-on support as we looked to restructure the business and strengthen our management controls and reporting. As a result, we now have the organisational capacity to take on more Government contracts.Dr Guy Turnbull, Managing Director of CASA
Investors, Donors & Partners
Big Society Capital
Greater Manchester Pensions Fund
Merseyside Pension Fund