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Key Funds Paves the Way for Change

“Excited to share how Key Fund is leading the way in inclusive investment for ethnic minority social entrepreneurs.”


Key Fund Breaks Barriers, Spearheading Inclusive Investment for Social Entrepreneurs

In a pioneering move, social investor Key Fund is actively working to address barriers faced by social entrepreneurs from ethnic minorities.

Operating across the North and the Midlands, Key Fund provides crucial investment, ranging from loans to grants, between £5,000-£300,000 to social enterprises in some of the most deprived communities.

This initiative is a response to ongoing research from the Black United Representation Network (BURN), revealing a significant gap in investment accessibility for ethnic minority businesses in Manchester.

The study highlights that dismantling these barriers could boost productivity by almost £4 billion in the Manchester region alone, underscoring the economic impact of supporting Black and Asian business leaders.

Despite one million of the six million businesses in the UK being minority-owned, individuals from these groups face heightened exclusion from the financial system, according to the Minority Businesses Matter Report*.

Key Fund, originating in South Yorkshire in 1999 in response to the collapse of the coal and steel industries, is a social enterprise founded by like-minded social entrepreneurs and philanthropists. Its mission is to breathe life back into communities by supporting new enterprises.

CEO Matt Smith emphasizes, “Key Fund has a long history of reaching the most disadvantaged places, but we’re aware that the most marginalized groups in these places have traditionally been unable to access finance.

Our mission to create successful communities can’t work if there are people still left behind.

There is a profound need, and we have to step up to meet it.”

Key Fund focuses on supporting social or community organizations that aim to create positive social or environmental impact alongside profitability.

To date, it has awarded £49.4 million in loans and £23.3 million in grants, creating or sustaining 3,000 businesses and over 4,000 jobs, with a total impact of £370 million.

Matt Smith urges social entrepreneurs facing rejection or cultural and language barriers to reach out, stating, “If you’re a social entrepreneur who has been turned down by your bank, or struggled with cultural or language barriers, our door is open. Please talk to us.”

Addressing barriers such as discrimination and the lack of customized business and application support delivered by diverse providers is crucial.

Dr. Marilyn Comrie OBE, an award-winning social entrepreneur and founder of BURN, emphasizes the importance of understanding specific barriers faced by ethnic minorities to overcome long-standing racial inequities.

Key Fund’s commitment to inclusivity includes a series of workshops for ethnic minority social entrepreneurs, offering translation services as required. The organization actively champions its existing BAME clients with the hope of inspiring others.

Recent Key Fund investees include Highway Hope in Manchester, a social enterprise hub offering discount food stores, a beauty salon for ethnic minorities, IT hub, re-use furniture store, and educational programs.

The fund also invested in Toranj Tuition to support them in purchasing their own building and becoming more sustainable.

Established by three Iranian nationals in Hull twenty years ago, Toranj Tuition assists qualified migrants in re-entering their professions in the UK and runs educational programs for children from deprived backgrounds.

Among the recent beneficiaries is Newcastle’s Africawad, founded by asylum seeker Afi Dometi.

The organization supports over 20 women into education or employment in the UK each year and saves 300,000 kilos of unwanted clothes from landfill, showcasing the diverse positive impact of Key Fund’s investments.


Black Wall St. MediaContributor



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