It’s really exciting when lots of things you’ve been working on over many years start to join up and tell a great story.
On Monday, news about Growth Impact Fund’s second close hit the press and we’re a part of it. Our community-led investment fund invested £250,000 in the fund alongside the big dogs – Macquarie at £1.5M– and in return Growth Impact Fund has committed £250,000 to support diverse-led businesses in Barking and Dagenham.
This is huge!
In 2019 the Social Enterprise UK’s State of Social Enterprise Survey revealed a stark disparity: Black and ethnic minority-led social enterprises were applying for and receiving finance at just one quarter the level for the rest of the social enterprise sector. That was before the pandemic and the escalating cost-of-living crisis, which have disproportionately affected predominantly non-white communities like ours in Barking and Dagenham.
This data was the catalyst behind the formation of the Growth Impact Fund by Big Issue Invest and UnLtd. For us at BD Giving, it was the lived experiences of the residents and entrepreneurs in chronically underfunded Barking and Dagenham that drove the investment decision.
This data and these experiences also gave life to the similarly-named GROW Fund, the tranche of our community-led investment fund dedicated to Barking and Dagenham entrepreneurs. When we launched the GROW Fund in January, we were overwhelmed by the responses. Though our fund could only support eight businesses, the other ninety-something predominantly black-led businesses made us think deeply about our role in decolonising funding and the meaning of “purpose” in business.
Invest in the now
Kromanti Distillery & Blending House is a Barking and Dagenham-born business whose purpose is to make rum that rekindles the forgotten stories of the labour that transformed the Western world. While we weren’t able to fund them through the GROW Fund, we stand behind their celebration of black history through everyday trading. Equally, we continue to learn about the complex challenges they face in a broken funding system and we are working to develop new programmes and products that can be part of an entirely new local funding ecosystem. In essence: for Barking and Dagenham, by Barking and Dagenham.
BD Giving’s investment in the Growth Impact Fund and the resulting partnership is a step towards a more inclusive and equitable landscape beyond our borough. Together, we are embarking on a learning journey in Barking and Dagenham through funding and we expect to take our learnings and support diverse-led businesses farther afield. Our pursuit is not just about financial investment, it’s about investments in individuals’ voices and human stories that lead to a more just world.