Big Issue Invest reports close to £1 million of investment into Scottish social ventures

Big Issue Invest’s Power Up programme, a lending scheme offering investment, support and mentorship to early stage social ventures across Scotland, launched its 2020 Impact Report.

The report reveals that the programme has supported 19 social business to date with a total of £870,000 of investment. In turn, collectively, the social ventures were able to respond to the Covid-19 crisis by providing meals to high-risk individuals, supporting disabled beneficiaries and helping those experiencing homelessness into accommodation and providing online counselling.

Alongside Big Issue Invest, the programme partners Scottish Government, University of Edinburgh, Aberdeen Standard Investments, Places for People, Experian and Brodies, delivered pro-bono support exceeding 3,500 hours. The estimated monetary value of time investment from Partner Organisations in kind (through mentorship, panels, pro-bono support given) equalled over £384,000.

The Blankfaces was one of the 19 social enterprises that successfully completed the three-month Power Up Scotland Programme in 2020. The Blankfaces is the UK’s first fashion label aimed at eradicating homelessness. Each design is inspired or created by a homeless person, which forms the backbone of its clothing range. A percentage of every product sold goes directly back to the homeless participant who has shared their story, and 100 per cent of the profits go towards ending homelessness.

Gerard McKenzie-Govan, Founder, The Blankfaces, said: “We have had a long-standing relationship with Big Issue Invest, working closely with their team and even sharing an office space in their Glasgow premises. Their help with Power Up Scotland pre-Covid and during lockdown meant we could keep growing as a business and even open our first shop at 427 Great Western Road! We’re excited for the future.”

Other social enterprises supported by the programme include Projekt42, the UK’s first wellness centre to combine personal training, group fitness, yoga and mental health services and Scran Academy which works to improve the lives of disadvantaged young people through a cooking school. Both ventures are based in Edinburgh.

Sara Hawkins, Director at Projekt42, said: “The Power Up Scotland programme provided a range of support from marketing through to legal advice, which has been invaluable to Projekt 42. Two years on, we are still benefitting from the support networks the programme enabled us to put into place. ”

John Loughton, Director at Scran Academy, said: “After going through the programme ourselves, we merged with Power Up Scotland alumni, Prep Table, during Covid. The core partnership helped pioneer a citywide food operation, the Scran Meals Programme, that has so far produced and delivered around 150,000 meals to around 3,500 residents across Edinburgh supported by 250 keyworker volunteers. We’re proud to have continued our core programmes for youth work and wellbeing support for over 20 individuals. ”

Danyal Sattar, CEO of Big Issue Invest, said: “We have been inspired by these 19 organisations we have supported with both the investment and the business development expertise that they needed in order to make an even greater difference within their communities. It is our Partners and the valuable social enterprises who go on to create social impact.  We could not have done it without them.”

Amanda Young, Global Head of Responsible Investment at Aberdeen Standard Investments, said: “The most powerful thing about being involved in Power Up Scotland was seeing social entrepreneurialism in action. Social investment can make a tangible difference in improving some of societies’ biggest social problems.”

The Power Up Scotland programme is open to early stage social ventures across Scotland. If you are a local social enterprise or charity looking for investment, you can apply for the next Power Up Scotland programme in 2021. For more information and to download the 2020 Impact Report, please visit

If you are an investor, you can be part of powering up Scotland’s social enterprises. For more information, visit

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