A NEW £1 million investment and support programme was launched yesterday to back

early-stage social businesses across Scotland. The Power Up programme is managed by Big Issue Invest Scotland, the social investment arm of The Big Issue. It is funded by project partners that include Aberdeen Standard Investments, the University of Edinburgh

and the Scottish Government, and supported by Brodies LLP

The programme, which was officially launched by Edinburgh Northern and Leith SNP MSP Ben Macpherson.

Macpherson and John Montague, managing director of group operations at The Big Issue joined project partners on a visit to one of the programme’s first applicants, Projekt 42, a not-for-profit gym and wellness centre, in Kirkgate in Leith.

The project aims to enable up to 20 Scottish social ventures to access loan funding of up to £50,000 each over the next two years. It has been designed for early-stage social ventures regardless of company structure, from social enterprises and charities to private enterprises.

Social value creation is the key criterion. The scheme will build on Big Issue Invest’s expertise in social venture investment. Since its launch in 2005, it has directly invested more than £30m in more than 300 social ventures.

Macpherson said: “I’m delighted that the SNP Scottish Government is playing a significant part in Big Issue Invest Scotland’s Power Up initiative. I know this initiative is going to make a really meaningful and positive impact across so many communities in Scotland, including in Leith, and I’m very pleased to support it.

“I look forward to seeing the positive results in the coming years and thank Big Issue Invest Scotland and their partners Aberdeen Standard Investments, the University of Edinburgh and Brodies LLP for their support for the initiative.”

Montague said: “A lot of fantastic early-stage social ventures across Scotland struggle to access small to medium-sized loans, so we are pleased, working in partnership

with the Scottish Government, University of Edinburgh and Aberdeen Standard Investments and with legal support from Brodies LLP, to be able to support those organisations with the investment and business development expertise that they need in order to make an even greater difference within their communities.”

Craig MacDonald, global head of fixed income, at Aberdeen Standard Investments, added: “We are excited to partner with Big Issue Invest Scotland to provide expert mentoring support to early-stage social ventures across Scotland. My colleagues are looking forward to sharing their experience and knowledge to help make a positive impact and support the development of these new enterprises.”

Dave Gorman, Edinburgh University’s director of social responsibility and sustainability, said: “Supporting new social ventures is an important part of our mission to make a positive impact on Scotland.

It adds to the work done by our students, who support and found numerous social businesses and community projects, and forms part of a bigger £1.5m commitment that includes our Edinburgh local community grants scheme.”

For more about the scheme, visit www.bigissueinvest/powerup