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Kent Community Foundation launches £1.6 million loan fund for charities and social enterprises

By Chris Price

A £1.6 million fund has been launched offering loans to charities and social enterprises in Kent.

Kent Community Foundation – which usually connects anonymous philanthropists with worthy causes – is offering the cash after receiving money from the Big Lottery Fund.

Its Kent Social Enterprise Loan Fund (KSELF) will offer unsecured loans between £10,000 and £100,000, with up to 30% of the amount awarded offered as a grant.

Kent Community Foundation has launched a £1.6m loan fund
Kent Community Foundation has launched a £1.6m loan fund

Charities and social enterprises will pay a flat interest rate of 5% and will apply directly to Kent Community Foundation.

Chief executive Josephine McCartney said: “We are delighted to announce the launch of KSELF, a blended loan and grant fund which will open up access to much needed finance for charities and social enterprise businesses in Kent and Medway.

“We hope that the additional grant offering will encourage more organisations to consider this funding option.”

Alongside the lottery money, the fund also uses cash originally awarded to the Ashford-based foundation in 2012 from Kent County Council.

It was given £3 million to invest over three years, with money repaid to be used again on other charities.

From left, Gregory Maynard of Wood N Ware, Josephine McCartney of Kent Community Fund, Mike Hill and Wood N Ware attendees Michael Lane and Alice Wells
From left, Gregory Maynard of Wood N Ware, Josephine McCartney of Kent Community Fund, Mike Hill and Wood N Ware attendees Michael Lane and Alice Wells

It has so far supported over 200 organisations with £1.2 million of loans and grants.

Wood N’ Ware in Ashford, which gives vulnerable adults woodworking skills, received a £28,000 loan alongside a £7,000 grant after it was founded in 2014.

It used the cash to improve cashflow and increase its number of daily attendees.

Director Louisa Fry said: “I had never run a business and my weakness was book keeping. Kent Community Foundation were aware of this from the start and focused on support in this area.”

Kent County Council’s communities chief Mike Hill said: “With the injection of further funding, it is now time for Kent to really get behind social enterprises and support them in their hugely valuable efforts in making communities better.

“It is also an excellent opportunity for new organisations, who want to make a difference, to realise their ambitions to benefit individuals and local businesses.”

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