The Growth Impact Fund, developed by Big Issue Invest and UnLtd, with support from Bank of America, announces its third round of investments helping social businesses grow their impact

A social impact investment fund developed by Big Issue Invest (BIIFM) and UnLtd, has provided a further £500,000 in investment to two social purpose organisations, taking the Fund’s total investments made to £1m.

[]The Growth Impact Fund is a £25m evergreen fund, investing in early and growth stage organisations, delivered by UnLtd: The Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs and BIIFM, to help create a more equitable Britain. The Fund has attracted close to £10 million of capital so far, including grant capital from cornerstone investors Access – the Foundation for Social Investment and Bank of America.

The Fund has made a £250,000 investment in Lightning Reach, a platform that has facilitated over £6m in grants to individuals in need of financial assistance and registered over 60,000 users. Data from the Office Of National Statistics (ONS) suggests that most deprived areas of England are the hardest hit by the cost of living crisis, with 58% of people spending less on essentials than other parts of the country.[1] By providing individuals with access to financial support, Lightning Reach is tackling the cost-of-living crisis head-on.

Nicole, a mother of two from Romford, accessed grant funding through the platform after finding herself facing financial difficulties. She said: “It relieved my stress; I was getting really stressed out about how I am going to pay. It reduced the number of days that I had to wait to top up the account to make sure the payment was made. The grant really helped me in that month to get me through.”

A further £259,482 was invested in chocolate company Harry Specters, which provides paid employment, work experience and training opportunities for young autistic people. Founded by Mona and Shaz in 2011 as a means of supporting their autistic son, the company now employs 12 Neurodiverse individuals and has provided over two hundred autistic people with free training and work experience.

Harry Specters produces luxury chocolates whilst making a contribution towards addressing employment needs for a significantly underserved community, as 71% of autistic adults in the UK are unemployed. The company employs autistic adults throughout its organisation, and also offers work experience to autistic young people at school and college to help them to access employment in the future.

Zoey Clenshaw joined Harry Specters in 2021, working across the sales, customer services and admin functions. Despite her skills and degree in performing arts, Zoe struggled to find and maintain employment. At Harry Specters she has become ‘The Office Octopus’ handling a variety of different tasks.

Zoey said, ‘as a late-diagnosed autistic woman I had previously struggled to hold down a job due to sensory and social difficulties. Now after just over 2 years working at Harry Specters I have been able to leave an abusive marriage, live confidently by myself, and thrive in a working environment where I am understood and accepted for who I am.’

The investments coincide with the release of the Fund’s annual report for its first year highlighting the need for social purpose organisations in the UK to have access to financial investment and the wider social benefits of this.

Mathu Jeyaloganathan, Head of Investment at UnLtd, said:  “Our first four investees are a testament to our  belief that equitable access to finance to those typically marginalised from social investment can transform society  –We’re proud to be offering support to social purpose organisations that are paving the way for business as a force for good.”

Ben Tiplady, Investment Manager at Big Issue Invest, said:  “We quickly identified both organisations as being aligned with our mission of tackling inequality in the UK. Lightning Reach platform has massive potential to support people experiencing financial hardship. Harry Specters creates employment opportunities for neurodivergent young people who would face barriers to work ordinarily.

“We would love for these investments to spur more collaboration between charitable organisations and are excited to watch them both grow.”

The Fund is currently backed by investors including Bank of America, Access – The Foundation for Social Investment, and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Social enterprises interested in the Growth Impact Fund can visit to learn more and register their interest or email



Big Issue Invest Fund Management (BIIFM) is the fund manager for the Growth Impact Fund, and the fund is addressed to professional investors only. Capital at Risk. BIIFM Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) FRN 610618.

Investors in the Growth Impact Fund include:


  • Bank of America
  • Access-  The Foundation for Social Investment.
  • Big Society Capital
  • Greater Manchester Combined Authority
  • University of Edinburgh
  • Scope
  • Trust for London
  • Joseph Rowntree Foundation
  • Charities Trust
  • Barrow Cadbury Trust
  • Philanthropist Nick Marple
  • Unltd
  • Big Issue Invest


About The Growth Impact Fund 

The Growth Impact Fund is designed for and with social entrepreneurs, to create market-leading social investment that is fit for purpose and driving social equality.

The fund will:


  • Provide investees with the option of patient, flexible capital, or alternative options including 70% of funding invested through equity and quasi-equity products.
  • Provide grant funded wrap-around support across the investment process (from early-stage enterprises to established organisations, and pre-investment to post investment)
  • Commit to ensuring the team, management, and governance of the fund are representative of the entrepreneurs the fund looks to support


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