At RBS we value social investment very highly. This almost goes without saying when you look at our history in this area.
In 1994 we helped to set up the first community development finance institution; The Social Enterprise Loan Fund. More recently we’ve helped set up (and often invested in) Social Investment Scotland, Charity Bank and Big Society Capital. We even set up our own arms-length charity, the RBS Micro Finance Fund, which is now celebrating its fifteenth birthday and has approved over five million pounds of loans in the last three years alone.
This is a vibrant, expanding and exciting market – and one that we’re proud to serve. But it remains that almost 40% of social enterprise find access to finance is their single biggest barrier to successful start-up and sustainable growth.
We're acknowledging pioneers in this area; regardless of whether they won or not. They’re propelling the market forward through the investment, support and advice they give to charities and social enterprises. Not only that but they’re also explaining that the rewards generated by their businesses are social as well as financial. Most importantly – they’re helping high street banks, like us, realise this too.
It’s for this reason that I’m so pleased we partnered with the Cabinet Office for the Social Investment Awards yesterday. There was a fantastic atmosphere on the night and it really seemed like all of those shortlisted for an award got something out of it.