Posted in: General News
Sweet loan success for North Lanarkshire social enterprise.
Scottish bees will be in a buzz thanks to a loan from the £16 million Social Growth Fund, Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil has announced.
Kelvin Valley Honey, which sells honey-based products and provides equipment and training to budding bee keepers, will expand and diversify its business through the £250,000 funding boost.
The plans include expanding the Beekeeping for Business scheme, which has already seen beehives installed at the Scottish Parliament and Linlithgow Palace, the creation of a new workspace and advice service for social entrepreneurs, and the introduction of an interactive tourist centre, Scotland’s Honeybee Experience, in the spring.
Profits from Kelvin Valley Honey will be put towards the £1 million transformation of a 42 acre former coal mine pit, into Scotland’s first commercial community-owned market garden, three miles from Kilsyth, North Lanarkshire.
The £250,000 loan is one of the first allocations of funds through the £16 million Social Growth Fund. Since the fund opened in May £150,000 has been allocated to the Factory Skatepark in Dundee and £1 million to iPower to combat fuel poverty.
Mr Neil said:
“Kelvin Valley Honey’s unique plans will not only help bees produce honey, pollinate crops and wild plants, but will provide educational opportunities and help build a community garden in Kilsyth.
“We recognise that social enterprises strengthen our economy and support our aims of creating a fairer society, but we need to have the right environment for them to flourish. That is why it’s crucial for us to provide direct support and investment through schemes like the Social Growth Fund.
“This Fund encourages our entrepreneurs and enterprising organisations to think of innovative ways to tackle inequalities and help us to deliver a better Scotland.”
As well as helping to regenerate the former mining area, Kelvin Valley Honey’s plans will create more training opportunities and jobs for young people and those with disabilities, and continue to grow the honey bee population.
Paul Holmes, Chairman of Kelvin Valley Honey, said:
“To say that we’re delighted to be granted the Social Growth Fund loan is an understatement. It delivers a major boost in our ability to finance our wider environmental, social and economically beneficial objectives and enhance our long term sustainability.
“Without it we would not be in the position to progress many of this year’s new initiatives which will considerably increase the organisation’s growth potential. This in turn is what will make the £1 million development of the first 25 acres of the market garden possible.”
The £16 million Social Growth Fund is comprised of £8 million of loan repayments from recipients of the Scottish Investment Fund which have been reinvested by the Scottish Government, and £8 million from Big Society Capital.
The Fund is managed by Social Investment Scotland (SIS). Nick Kuenssberg, Chair of SIS said:
“Kelvin Valley Honey is a fantastic example of how a social enterprise can leverage investment to help it secure long term financial security and no longer need to rely on grant funding. This is exactly what the Social Growth Fund was set up to support.
“The social impact of Kelvin Valley Honey captures the whole community and its membership of over 220 local residents is growing. Its well-researched business case makes it one of the leading social enterprises in Scotland and we look forward to seeing its exciting plans move forward in 2015.”
Social Investment Scotland (SIS) was established in 2001 to provide a new finance model for Scotland’s charities and social enterprises.
Since then it has invested over £43 million in almost 180 organisations across Scotland. Loan finance via Social Investment Scotland is available from £10,000 to £1 million and is aimed at community enterprises and social businesses that might find access to finance from mainstream providers difficult.
SIS also manage the Scottish Investment Fund on behalf of the Scottish Government, which has seen £31.8 million invested in 67 third sector organisations since 2008, with the loan repayments being reinvested in the Social Growth Fund, to match an £8 million investment from Big Society Capital. BSC is an independent, UK wide organisation set up to grow the size of the social investment marketplace across the UK.
For more information about SIS, visit www.socialinvestmentscotland.com.
More information about Kelvin Valley Honey is available at: http://www.kelvinvalleyhoney.org.uk/