Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund receives backing from the OTS and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

15th September 2009

Bridges Ventures is pleased to announce that the Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund has received substantial further backing from the Office of the Third Sector and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. This increases the funds under management to £8.6m. The Office of the Third Sector has committed to invest up to £5m in the fund, alongside the […]

Bridges Ventures is pleased to announce that the Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund has received substantial further backing from the Office of the Third Sector and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

This increases the funds under management to £8.6m. The Office of the Third Sector has committed to invest up to £5m in the fund, alongside the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation’s £0.75m and previous investment from individuals, foundations and institutions. This is the first large government investment specifically aimed at high growth social enterprises.

The Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund, an initiative of the Bridges Charitable Trust, was launched in November 2008. The fund invests in scalable social enterprises that deliver a high social impact and operate financially sustainable business models. The fund invests up to £1.5m in each social enterprise, through hands-on, equity-like capital and aims to establish a track record of financial and social returns as well as attract additional investment into the sector.

Antony Ross, Director at Bridges Ventures said:

“We are extremely pleased that Bridges Ventures has been chosen for this groundbreaking investment from the OTS and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. These additional funds will enable us to support a wider group of social entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. We currently have several exciting opportunities in the pipeline and hope to be announcing our first investment shortly.”

Minister for the Third Sector, Angela Smith MP, said at the Social Finance Seminar this morning:

“We are delighted to be supporting social enterprises and to have invested in the Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund. I am confident that this money will make a real difference and I am looking forward to seeing how this investment will help the social enterprise sector increase its impact and assure its sustainability.”

– Ends –

Fund enquiries:

Social enterprises looking for growth capital, and investors interested in supporting the fund, should contact Antony Ross or Skye Heller on 020 7262 5566 or email

Media enquiries:

HB Communications for Bridges Ventures – 020 7637 2780 Tom Hampson-Bellon    /  Florence Drake

Office of the Third Sector Charlotte Godber – 020 7276 0311
The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation Danyal Sattar – 020 7812 3737

Notes to editors:

Bridges Ventures

Bridges Ventures is an investment company whose commercial expertise is used to deliver both financial returns and social and environmental benefits.  Bridges Ventures’ key backers include Sir Ronald Cohen, co-founder and former chairman of Apax Partners, 3i and Doughty Hanson.

Three funds have been raised to date: Venture Funds I & II and the Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund.

Launched in August 2009, the Social Entrepreneurs Fund is an innovative financing solution that is tailored to the needs of ambitious social enterprises. The nine Founder Partners have contributed donations to the Bridges Charitable Trust to create an Evergreen Fund. They include NESTA, Sir Ronald Cohen, Nigel Doughty, Harvey McGrath, Apax Foundation, The Generation Foundation, Lehman Foundation, Deutsche Bank and the Bridges Ventures team who have allocated funds from their profit share.

The fund invests in the form of equity-like capital, which shares in the risks but also the returns of social enterprises.  Investments are coupled with hands-on advice and support to help the social enterprises realise their potential.

Venture Fund I totaled £40m while Venture Fund II totaled £75m, beating its original target of £50m by 50%, and was closed in 2007. Investors in the second fund include HSBC, Co-operative Financial Services, Barclays Business Banking, Lloyds TSB, and Citigroup, individuals including Tom Singh of 3i, Dr Mike Lynch of Autonomy Corporation, Harvey McGrath of Man Group and Lloyd Dorfman of Travelex, as well as pension funds and endowments including the Universities Superannuation Scheme, the West Midlands Pension Fund and All Souls College.

The Venture Funds invest in businesses based in regeneration areas and in sustainable business sectors such as the environment, education and healthcare.  Bridges Ventures typically invests up to £10m at a time in ambitious, entrepreneurial businesses including early stage, development capital and management buy-outs. So far, £52m has been invested in 30 companies, many of whose employees have come out of long-term unemployment. To date there have been four successful exits: Harlands in Hull, SimplySwitch in South London, HS Atec in Yorkshire and EB2 in South London.

For more information please go to

The Office of the Third Sector

As part of the Cabinet Office, the Office of the Third Sector (OTS) leads work across government to support the environment for a thriving third sector (voluntary and community groups, social enterprises, charities, cooperatives and mutuals), enabling the sector to campaign for change, deliver public services, promote social enterprise and strengthen communities. The OTS was created at the centre of government in May 2006 in recognition of the increasingly important role the third sector plays in both society and the economy.

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation was established in 1961 by Ian Fairbairn as a memorial to his wife Esmée. Today it is one of the largest independent grant-making foundations in the UK. Its aim is to improve the quality of life for people and communities in the UK both now and in the future.

For more information please go to

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