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Happy Birthday Key Fund


This week marks the 10th anniversary of the Key Fund based in Sheffield, South Yorkshire.

Founded in 1999 Key Fund uses European, regional and charitable funds to provide a mixture of flexible grant, loan and equity packages to support Social Enterprise activity. The fund has invested over £26 million to date, and has an impressive track record in supporting these businesses to grow. A social enterprise itself, the Key Fund is a market leader in innovation recognizing the nature and environment within which social businesses operate – namely disadvantage and market failure.

Key Fund is the subject of a case study on the use of European funds in urban areas, to be published by the European Commission later this year. The case recognizes a key success factor of the Fund is its ability to balance responsiveness and relationships with the locality with sound investment principles.

One recipient of Key Fund support is the JADE organisation, a social enterprise in Rotherham, providing opportunities for young people through the medium of music and performance as an alternative to the street culture of the area. Co founder Sam Oldroyd: “The Key Fund helped out when money got tight and things got sticky due to a grant payment being late. It all came together in a perfect storm and we really didn’t think we would make it. As a result of Key Fund intervention JADE now has rented premises (a ‘living room on the high street’) where young people can drop in, with an IT suite, music and dance studios.

To celebrate the anniversary the Key Fund has published a Top Ten Social Enterprises of the North and will be awarding cash prizes to the finalists at a party in the Magna Science Museum.


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