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Big Issue founder celebrates debut of £25m North West social investment fund

l-r: Jack from Neuropool, Lord Bird and DWRM's Ruth

Big Issue founder Lord Bird took to the stage in Manchester today to celebrate the investment debut of a new £25m fund for North West social enterprises that create social impact and tackle inequity.

The Bank of America and Greater Manchester Combined Authority-backed Growth Impact Fund, developed by Big Issue Invest and UnLtd, recently announced its first two investees – Neuropool and Doing What Really Matters (DWRM).

DWRM is a social enterprise that works with universities to offer degree courses to facilitate prisoner rehabilitation. It has received £150,000 in investment from the Fund.

Neuropool is a neurodivergent talent platform which aims to get more than 10,000 neurodivergent people into employment by 2030 and has received £300,000 in funding from the Growth Impact Fund.

Lord Bird, who is also a cross-bench peer, was attending a conference celebrating the first round of investees of the £25 million fund. It was attended by a host of social enterprises from across the North West who connected with peers, funders, and partners and had a chance to learn more about the Growth Impact Fund and how they can access similar support.

Lord Bird said: “I am so pleased to have been a part of today’s event, celebrating the Growth Impact Fund with fellow social entrepreneurs from across the North West. The Fund is committed to supporting social enterprises that prioritise creating a positive social impact by promoting social equity. It is inspiring to witness the tremendous impact these organizations are having on their communities.”

He also shared his experience of building a successful social enterprise – from starting the Big Issue to starting Big Issue Invest, as well as the importance of the Growth Impact Fund and what it can do for social enterprises across the North West and UK.

Speakers also included the founders of Neuropool and DWRM, who spoke about their work and the support GIF has provided them.

Sarah Faber, investment director at Big Issue Invest, said: “We are thrilled to celebrate the successes of the Growth Impact Fund and the social enterprises that have benefited from it. Through this fund, we are able to support some of the most innovative and impactful social enterprises in the UK, and we look forward to continuing to drive positive change across the UK.”

Mathu Jeyaloganathan, head of investments at UnLtd, added: “This event is a testament to our dedication to supporting social purpose organisations in the North West and our belief in the untapped potential and impact of businesses throughout the UK.”

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