An initiative that brings together private, public and grant money has secured more than £10m to tackle the causes and effects of inequality in Bristol.
City Funds is one of the first of its kind in the UK and was officially established in 2018 as part of a bid to address some of the biggest social and environmental challenges in the city through supporting organisations and projects making a difference at a grassroots level.
The board – made up of representatives from the voluntary sector, universities, private firms and the mayor’s office – announced the completion of its first investment funding round on Wednesday, October 9.
Speaking about the impact fund, Ed Rowberry, City Funds board member and chief executive at Bristol and Bath Regional Capital, said: “Bristol is known for home-grown solutions to local challenges. City Funds maintains that DNA and is designed to amplify it—making finance work for the local projects and businesses with the ambition to have a positive effect in our communities.”
City Funds is part of the One City Plan directive, launched in January with the aim of setting out long-term ambitions for Bristol and taking a collaborative, cross-sector approach designed to transcend local government terms.
Read more: ‘We have got to have ambitions for Bristol’
While Bristol is seen as an affluent city, the number of people facing income deprivation is as high as 49 per cent in some wards, according to council figures.
This initiative aims to support goals of economic inclusion, environmental transformation, community initiatives and ensuring that no child goes hungry.
It will boost “impact-driven” organisations in Bristol with investments of between £50,000 to £1m. In addition, development funding will be available, where repayment will be linked to success milestones, such as achieving planning permission.
Cornerstone investors Bristol City Council and social impact investor Big Society Capital have each committed £5m.
Anna Shiel, head of operations at Big Society Capital, said: “City Funds is a premier example of what can be achieved when investment, grant and government support come together to focus on addressing the needs of a specific place through enterprising solutions.
“A place-based approach is much more likely to foster the collaboration and energy needed to tackle deep-rooted challenges such as inequality and poverty. Bristol is clearly leading the way, and that’s why we have chosen City Funds as our first partner to champion place-based investment.”
The fund is already actively seeking opportunities to invest in organisations that support its aims through its investment advisor Bristol and Bath Regional Capital.
Board members are: chair Andy Street, Sandra Meadows, CEO of Voscur, Sue Turner, CEO of Quartet Community Foundation, Nishan Canagarajah, pro vice-chancellor at Bristol University, Ed Rowberry, CEO of Bristol and Bath Regional Capital, Ololade Adesanya, head of internal audit for Sanlam UK, Ian Barratt, CEO of Avon Wildlife Trust, Peter Morris, a partner at Burges Salmon and Kevin Slocombe, head of the mayor’s office.
Mayor Marvin Rees said: “Aligning investment in City Funds to the One City Plan and delivering against the key challenges the city faces will be truly transformational for the city.
“Achieving investment from Big Society Capital and grant funding from Power to Change at this early stage in the development of the funds shows how successful this approach can be and is a real step forward towards delivering inclusive and sustainable growth.”
Organisations and projects seeking funding can find out more at www.bristolcityfunds.co.uk.
Read more: The gap between Bristol’s rich and poor