Greater Manchester credit unions support social investment with first loan to social business

The first social investment by a credit union has been made this month as part of the Enterprising Communities Fund (ECF), a unique partnership between GMCVO, The Greater Manchester Credit Union Consortium, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Access – The Foundation for Social Investment and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, enabling savers in Greater Manchester communities to invest in local businesses that do good in their communities.

Manchester based national charity, TLC: Talk, Listen, Change have been awarded a total of £180,000 from the fund to help set up a new trading subsidiary. This new social business will deliver paid for counselling and therapies and the profits generated will go into the charitable arm to fund counselling for those who can't afford it. 

80% (£144,000) of the total amount given is repayable finance provided by Manchester Credit Union that will be paid back over 5 years. The Enterprising Communities Fund offers blended finance, which means the remaining 20% (£36,000) has been awarded by Access – The Foundation for Social Investment as a grant.  

TLC: Talk, Listen, Change will use the money to recruit skilled professionals and implement operational infrastructures to ensure the delivery of an efficient, high-quality counselling and therapy service. It will also fund a new website build and the execution of a marketing strategy designed to reach the intended paid audience. This is the third social investment loan from GMCVO that TLC: Talk, Listen, Change have had; the first was awarded in 2017 to set up the brand of TLC and the second, awarded in 2020 helped them to grow their development team. The first two investments have already resulted in an overall increase in trading turnover and has enabled the organisation to be even more ambitious with their plans for future growth.

Christine Moore, CEO at Manchester Credit Union said: 

“We are delighted and proud to provide the first credit union loan under the ECF, working with GMCVO and other funders. 

Our members are local people and because of the savings they have built up over the years we have been able to lend to TLC: Talk, Listen, Change, which is a trading charity helping people in our community. 

This fulfils one of our social goals which is to contribute to the economic regeneration of our communities. 

Using the community wealth created by our members to enable local social enterprises to improve the lives of others is something that fits well with the not-for-profit, co-operative and ethical principles of Credit Unions. We hope that our Credit Union and others in Greater Manchester can provide more of these loans to help the local VCSE sector continue to thrive.” 

Michelle Hill, CEO of TLC: Talk, Listen, Change said: 

"This is TLC: Talk, Listen, Change’s third form of social investment. We took our first back in 2017 when we first launched our organisation, and it enabled us to develop our brand. Our second followed a few years later and was to support us in growing our development activity. This is our third and is to enable us to launch our first commercial subsidiary. Each time we have taken an increasing amount of investment as our confidence in the process has increased.

We have loved the flexibility that social investment has given us and how it has enabled us to be innovative, creative and take a step change in our organisation. We’ve been well supported throughout by the investment team at GMCVO and personally, I now definitely see them as a trusted advisor. If I want to try something new at TLC: Talk, Listen, Change, I will often ring our investment manager to talk through how I can make it happen. Each form of social investment has been blended investment, with both a grant and a loan, and there is something hugely attractive about this.

This is our first investment with support from Manchester Credit Union and we are very grateful to them, and the rest of the investment committee, for believing in us and our plans. The process of securing the investment itself is a rigorous one, but that also helped us develop and improve our business plans. The combination of both support and rigour really do make the investment process a positive one.” 

Find out more about TLC: Talk, Listen Change here

Find out more about the Enterprising Communities Fund here

If you’re a social business working in Greater Manchester and you’re looking to grow through accessing social investment, feel free to submit an enquiry form here.


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