Projects   >    Current Opportunities   >   The Grow Fund


The UK’s first community-led investment fund

Investing with & for the people of
Barking & Dagenham

For too long the people who are most affected by funding decisions have been excluded from the decision-making process. In Barking and Dagenham, we’re changing that!

What is the GROW Fund?

Our funding and investment approach looks at the social impact of the money we hold, not just the financial return. The GROW Fund was developed by residents of the borough (a Community Steering Group) with money transferred by the Council to BD Giving.

After months of learning about investment and sharing ideas about what they want to achieve the Community Steering Group chose to use some of it to support local entrepreneurs who are committed to growing businesses that are good for people and the planet.

The potential of the GROW Fund

Barking and Dagenham has been chronically underfunded despite acute need.

Our aim is for Barking and Dagenham to become the fastest-growing borough for social sector funding and impact investment over the next three years. We know tackling systemic issues like child obesity, domestic abuse and a lack of opportunities for young people takes time. We’re in it for the long haul.

Designed by our Community Steering Group, the GROW Fund is supporting local, purpose-driven organisations to grow and have more social impact in the borough. We want our investments to be sustainable and have deep impact.

Barking & Dagenham is full of opportunity and community energy; local people have the appetite to improve the borough and community-led social investment can accelerate their efforts.

But we need additional funding to make our social investment pot go further and administer the loans.

60% of applications in our first round were from Black-led ventures, and 70% from women-led enterprises.

Get in touch if you want to be a part of England’s first community-led social investment

Kate Harmatz

Head of Fundraising and Partnerships

Meet Barking & Dagenham’s Entrepreneurs

Eight local business owners joined the first GROW Fund accelerator programme in May 2023. They each received a grant of £25,000 and are taking part in a seven-month accelerator programme, covering everything a business needs to GROW sustainably, with help from our partners at Impact Hub London.
The entrepreneur’s grants are kindly donated by the Lankelly Chase Foundation. In November 2023, they can apply for repayable finance from the GROW Fund.

The entrepreneurs are:

Subscribe to our Community Newsletter to learn more about the Fund and to be notified when applications open.

25 October 2023
Barking and Dagenham community investors are tackling UK social inequality

Barking & Dagenham’s GROW Fund decision makers have chosen to...

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11 October 2023
The GROW Fund podcast launches today

Our new podcast about local investment and entrepreneurs is available...

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14 August 2023
Our community makes its first investment

This is a story of financial firsts! Our CSG has...

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15 May 2023
GROW Fund Grantees’ Announcement!

Barking and Dagenham Giving is excited to announce the eight...

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1 February 2023
Barking & Dagenham Businesses set to GROW

A flagship new fund exclusively for businesses and not-for-profits has...

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4 October 2022
BD Giving Notes – #23 ‘A piece of cake?’

By assuming that Risk, Return, Impact and Liquidity are all...

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19 September 2022
BD Giving Notes – #21 ‘A Reality Check’

The question is, do we need to consider ‘professionalising’ our...

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30 August 2022
BD Giving Notes – #18 ‘Help! Understanding the Investment World?!’

But why would we want someone sitting in a swanky...

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15 August 2022
BD Giving Notes – #16 ‘Co-creating Communications with local people’

This week’s Note is written by our communications consultant, Louise...

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25 July 2022
BD Giving Notes – #13 ‘The first ‘returns’ on our investment’

Participation takes time and resources but the outcome is larger...

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29 June 2022
BD Giving Note – #11 ‘The value in the process’

How do you determine whether a participatory funding intervention has...

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22 June 2022
We. Did. It! – We have launched the Community Investment Policy

We took Barking and Dagenham’s Community-Led Investment Policy to Parliament...

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18 May 2022
Building trust and sharing responsibility

After the first meeting of the Community Steering Group with...

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26 April 2022
The CSG’s story so far

After 4 months, lots of learning, questioning, and more than...

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19 April 2022
Ask the Experts

In the fifth workshop, at the request of CSG members,...

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21 March 2022
CSG Members ‘Cautiously Empowered’ to Make Decisions on Investment

This blog summarises what Barking & Dagenham Giving’s Steering Group...

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10 February 2022
Community Steering Group Take the Driving Seat of Investment

This blog summarises what Barking & Dagenham Giving’s Steering Group...

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21 January 2022
A Bullseye for Barking & Dagenham

This blog summarises what Barking & Dagenham Giving’s Steering Group...

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6 December 2021
What would you choose, oranges, apples or lemons?

This blog summarises what Barking & Dagenham Giving’s Steering Group...

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8 July 2021
Models of Community Investments

During Giving Week 2021, as part of our learning journey...

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19 April 2021
Community Endowment Fund – Report

Last month, we held two meetings with the community to...

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10 March 2021
Interest, uncertainty, and opportunity: initial reflections on the endowment workshop

On 1st and 3rd March, BD Giving held two online...

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9 February 2021
Join BD Endowment Fund Design Workshops

Local people are invited to attend a Community Endowment Fund...

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2 February 2021
The Power of B&D: a celebration event

Launch of Barking & Dagenham Endowment Fund featuring local artists...

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15 December 2020
Barking & Dagenham Council gives power to the people with transfer of significant endowment to BD Giving

Community organisations in Barking and Dagenham are set to benefit...

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