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What is Big Society Capital and what do they do?
Big Society Capital (“BSC”) is an independent financial institution with a social mission, which was launched in April 2012 to help grow a sustainable social investment market in the UK. Social investment is the use of repayable finance to achieve a social as well as financial return and BSC’s mission is to act as both an investor and market champion in the developing social investment market. BSC’s funding (which will total up to £600m) comes from English dormant bank accounts through the Reclaim Fund and from the four main UK high street banks.
BSC acts as a wholesale investor meaning that rather than investing directly in frontline social sector organizations itself, BSC invests in social investment finance intermediaries, which in turn provide finance to support frontline social sector organizations. BSC believes that by investing in intermediaries it will bring more capital into the social sector than it could alone provide.
As a market champion, BSC aims to increase awareness of and confidence in social investment by promoting best practice, improving links between the social investment and mainstream financial markets and working to develop social impact assessment.
Why I wanted to go on secondment to BSC and what I have gained from my secondment
As a relative novice to the world of social investment, I applied for the BSC secondment because I was interested in learning more about alternative models for financing social sector organisations and charities.
I began my 6-month secondment to BSC in September 2014 and since then I have primarily been assisting BSC’s Internal Counsel and Compliance Officer in her day-to-day work. In terms of legal skills, I’ve gained greater familiarity with loan, equity and funds investment documentation through assisting with the legal process for BSC investment commitments. I’ve also had the opportunity to practise my legal research skills by researching wide-ranging legal issues relating to competition, public, financial regulatory and employment law which have arisen in the course of BSC’s work.
While at BSC, I’ve had the opportunity to attend a three-day induction training session provided by BSC for new members of staff and social investment finance intermediaries on the subject of social investment and the social challenges being addressed by social sector organizations. I also attended a course run by TrustLaw on Social Enterprise and Impact Investing. Before the end of my secondment, I’m also hoping to visit a frontline social sector organization which has been funded by one of BSC’s investee intermediaries.
Along with its investees, BSC is working at the forefront of the development of the social investment market in the UK. BSC is a very dynamic and interesting place to work and I’ve been really lucky to have such a good introduction to the world of social investment.