‘Green’ company grows with Somerset Social Enterprise Fund

A Taunton-based social enterprise which recycles thousands of tonnes of waste timber every year is the latest to benefit from Somerset’s £1million Social Enterprise Fund (SSEF).

Somerset County Council established the Fund in 2014 with the Somerset Community Foundation. Its aim is to provide loan finance of between £10,000 and £100,000 to help new and established social enterprises to grow and prosper. To be eligible for funding from the SSEF, organisations must be working within Somerset and able to demonstrate they are social enterprises.

Latest beneficiary, We’re Eco Community Interest Company, recycles waste wood and offers work experience to disadvantaged and vulnerable members of Somerset and North Devon’s communities. Its £20,000 loan contribution from the Fund will enable the team to purchase its own, branded van – a big development for the company.

crop We're Eco in the workshop

It is the second social enterprise to be awarded an investment from the Somerset Social Enterprise Fund, following in Taunton Athletics Club’s footsteps in 2015. The £25,000 awarded to Taunton Athletics is helping the club complete their refurbished club house and facilities, and drive the growth of its membership.

Cllr John Osman, Leader of Somerset County Council said: “This is a perfect example of the type of work the Somerset Social Enterprise Fund was set up to support – that which feeds back into, and ultimately strengthens, our communities.

“I would like to wish We’re Eco all the best for the future. And needless to say I am looking forward to seeing their new, eye-catching van in all its glory when it is up and running!”

Bev Jones, co-owner of We’re Eco, said: “Having the funding from SCF and SCC will enable us to offer more supported volunteering to people in our local community who struggle with mental health issues or substance abuse, as well as young people and the long-term unemployed, to name but a few.

“Having extra tools and equipment will make a huge difference to the projects we have to offer. The funding means we are able to purchase a van, rather than rent, which in turn will free up a large amount of our yearly turnover, which will enable us to create employment opportunities.”

Justin Sargent, Chief Executive of Somerset Community Foundation, said: “We’d love to see more Somerset social enterprises benefit from the Fund, so please get in touch to find out if your organisation could be eligible.”

One of the key characteristics of the Somerset Social Enterprise Fund is that it is self-sustaining, with loan repayments and interest ‘recycled’ into loans for future applicants.

Social enterprises can apply for the loans for any number of reasons, including purchasing equipment or vehicles, improving the property they operate from, or to enable and support organisational growth and development.

Social enterprises wishing to find out more should contact the Somerset Community Foundation. Phone 01749 344949, email info@somersetcf.org.uk or visit http://www.somersetcf.org.uk/apply-for-a-grant/Somerset-Social-Enterprise-Fund