Place Category: Finance & legal
Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT) has assisted over 360 community organisations, charities and social enterprises in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland providing loan finance in excess of £50million. Loans are available for many purposes including bridging funding gaps, working capital, purchasing equipment and property, restructuring existing debt and match funding.
As a registered charity, all profits generated by the Trust are recycled for reinvestment into the community and voluntary sector and social enterprise sector. In total during 2014, UCIT approved loans of over £6million to 65 charities, community organisations and social enterprises in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Projects financed included rural development initiatives, childcare projects, environmental initiatives, Housing associations, sports clubs and community transport schemes.
In addition to new lending, UCIT has worked with its existing customers, offering guidance and assistance to those loan holders facing difficult trading conditions. UCIT’s approach is to assist in bringing about genuine positive impact in the most disadvantaged and marginalised communities where need is greatest.
Social Impact Statements:
Social Impact Statements
The Social Enterprise Mark criteria includes a requirement that the applicant can demonstrate that social and/or environmental objectives are being achieved.
In support of this, new applicants and renewing Mark holders must submit Social Impact Statements that summarise their headline activities and achievements, helping show how they are striving to make a difference and stand up to scrutiny of purpose as a social enterprise.
1) Providing loans to social sector organisations
Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT) is a charity which provides loans to community organisations, charities and social enterprises.
Like other organisations, social enterprises require finance to grow and expand their services. Grants and donations provide an important source of funds but loan finance also has an increasing role to play, helping organisations to put their finances on a more sustainable footing.
Established in 1995 in response to decreasing grant support from Government and to address the difficulties experienced by community organisations in accessing commercial loan facilities due to perceived risk, UCIT is now the leading provider of loan finance and support to the social economy sector in Northern Ireland. UCIT aims to reach those community organisations and social enterprises that banks will not readily assist and in the process, enable them achieve ambitions and objectives they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. As loans are repaid, the funds are re-cycled to support others.
The Trust provides investments from £10k up to £500k+ to third sector organisations including sporting organisations, community associations, charities, green energy, faith-based projects, housing associations, social enterprises and a wide range of other worthy recipients.
Operating as both a financial organisation and a registered charity, our mix of financial expertise and local sectoral knowledge allows us to be uniquely placed to assist these organisations.
2) Measures of support provided
During 2015 UCIT approved loans of £6.27 million across 56 different Charities, Community Organisations and Social Enterprises in Northern Ireland (£3.4 million) and the Republic of Ireland (€3.9 million).
This brings our total loan commitments, since the drawdown of our first facility back in 2001, to over £60 million.
3) Benefits for loan recipients
By providing finance to these third sector organisations they have been able to pursue their objectives, provide improved services, increase their impact or sustain their activities and sustain employment in areas where it is most needed.
By way of illustration, we funded Folktown CIC in the development of their new farmers’ / artisan market in the centre of Belfast. A UCIT loan enabled PIPS Suicide Prevention to acquire premises helping them build additional capacity and extend their services.
We also supported Richhill Women’s Institute refurbish their premises, in the process enabling them establish a rental income to sustain their activities in future years.
We have also been very pleased to support a number of our existing / past clients with new or increased loan facilities to enable them further expand their enterprises, retain or increase their workforce and increase their social impact.
Some years ago, we assisted Blythswood Care with a loan to finance the purchase of their headquarters and warehouse in Ballyclare and we have been delighted to help fund each of their further investments as they have expanded their activities into Coleraine and most recently, to Ballymoney.
During 2015 we were also very pleased to assist Landmark East, a progressive urban regeneration company operating in East Belfast with a fourth loan facility. Support of £200,000 from UCIT enabled Landmark East to undertake the development of a substantial building project at the Holywood Arches, in the process improving the visual aspect of the area.