Risk investment and new starts in the social economy

5th March 2020, 10am – 4pm

Whether it is a self-starting group, a spin off from an established social enterprise, or an agency-driven project, a new social enterprise has to attract funds to get off the ground – and sometimes the grants and loans just aren’t there to do it. This is where venture capital has traditionally helped the for-profit sector – does it have any relevance to not-for-profits? We think it does, and that in fact, there is enormous potential for crowdfunding investment from supporters in the community and beyond, who can often benefit from tax reliefs and blended social and financial returns. There are two obvious risks: interference from investors compromising the social mission, and failure to meet the expectations of all stakeholders. With better understanding of these risks comes better mitigation of them. Rather than competing for a diminishing grant funding resource, we could be taking on the socially irresponsible businesses of the private sector at their own game. As well as practitioners, those supporting or advising self-help groups may find this course of benefit.


By the end of the course you will be able to:

  • Describe the qualifications for Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme tax relief.
  • Evaluate the pros and cons of seeking risk investment.
  • Define the new areas of activity that venture capital could open up.
  • Refer to one or more case studies where investors enabled social impact.
  • Plan for contingencies including worst case scenarios.
  • Locate social investors in a wider stakeholder analysis.
  • Define terms associated with citizen finance and social investment.

Key resources to cascade to your team after:

  • Handouts and templates will be available (PDF and hard copy) so that exercises can be repeated with wider participation in your team, and updated periodically.

Course Leader:

Alex Lawrie is a founder member of two housing co-ops (Cornerstone and Stepping
Stones), Footprint Workers Co-operative, the Ecological Land Co-op, GO-OP and Somerset Co-operative Services CIC. He led the team that developed the Somerset Rules, now used by 30 co-operatives.He studied politics at Leeds University, Training Skills at the DSC, and Planning for Real at the Neighbourhood Initiatives Foundation. He is a SFEDI accredited social enterprise advisor. He is the author of ‘Empowering the Earth’ (Green Books, 2000) and ‘Simply Finance’ (Co-ops UK, 2011). In 2017 he completed a Masters Degree in Strategy, Change and Leadership at Bristol University.

“Alex provided us with friendly professional and knowledgeable support” Oakfield Road Housing Co-operative

“The support we received was helpful and informative – it’s a pioneering service” West Somerset Community Land Trust


Other information:

  • Refreshments and sandwich lunch are provided at all full day events
  • Map/directions to venue will be sent to delegates. For extra networking time, please feel free to arrive half an hour before, and leave half an hour after, the time given here.
  • Discounts for early booking, multiple booking, bundle with other SCS CIC support or membership of co-operative federations
  • Delegates will receive certificates confirming course completion