The fund offers a combination of different type of support, depending on the needs of your enterprise. If succesful the Forward Enterprise Fund will work with you to design a package of support to help your organisation develop and grow. Support could include a mix of:
Business support gives you the chance to work with specialist advisers who can support your business grow and develop. Our business support can help with any parts of your business.
The Forward Enterprise Fund can support you to set up crowdfunding campaigns through the Crowdfunder platform to raise capital for your business.
You can access a tailored package of loans and grants to assist your business in its development.
The fund provides access to unsecured loans for between £25,000 - £150,000 split 85% loan/ 15% grant, for up to a five-year term The typical interest rate on the re-payable part is 7.5%. An unsecured loan means that you will not need a business or personal asset to secure the loan, which you would need to have if you were applying for a traditional bank loan. The loans should be used to expand your business operations in a way that would lead to more employment opportunities for ex-offenders and/or people in recovery. Organisations applying for loans will have typically been in operation for at least three years, with an established customer base and are profitable (or at break-even if operating as a charity or non-profit enterprise).
If your enterprise needs business support the Fund can pay for up to ten days of specialist support. Business support can be the first step to develop the necessary business plans and financial projections to apply for a loan from the Fund.
If your enterprise is at an early stage, you could, for example, use the advice to decide the right pricing structure for your product or service, the promotional campaigns to drive business and other support to help you increase revenue.
Match funding for crowdfunding
If your organisation wishes to raise start-up money via a campaign on Crowdfunder, you can apply for match funding of up to £5,000 from The Forward Trust. For more information on how Crowdfunding works, please visit our partner Crowdfunder’s page.
We will start the application process by checking your eligibility for the fund. This will be checked when you fill in in the expression of interest form.
Applicants are eligible to apply for a loan or grant with the Forward Enterprise Fund if the following apply:
- The applicant's business or organisation must be within England.
- The applicant's business or organisation must be:
- Working with or intending to work with ex-offenders or people in recovery from addiction, creating employment opportunities for people from these communities.
- Led by ex-offenders or people in recovery from addiction.
Considerations during the Application Process:
During the application process, the Forward Enterprise Fund will consider the following:
- If the applicant is an ex-offender:
- The victim sensitivity.
- If the applicant is an ex-offender with an unspent conviction:
- The type of offence committed.
- The length of time since the offence was committed.
- The length of time since the ex-offender was released from prison or end of a community sentence.
If you are unsure of your eligibility please contact us before applying. Email email@example.com or 020 3752 5560.
Once you have submitted the expression of interest form, we will assess your application. If the application meets our assessment criteria we will conduct a phone interview with you. This interview will explore further information about your business, its infrastructure and aims, looking to discuss the best course of action for you to fulfil your ambition.
Applicants who reach the telephone stage may be offered business support through one of our approved/partner business support providers. Applicants will be able to pick from our business support directory. Business support will help applicants shape their business and reach the stage where they are ready to apply for investment. Depending on the suitability of your business idea, you could also receive support and match funding to start a crowdfunding campaign on Crowdfunder.
Some organisations may be able to proceed directly to the loan application. Here applicants will fill out an application form with Social Investment Business to access funding.
When ready, organisations will be able to apply for a loan. This application is handled by Social Investment Business. The application will ask for further information about your business, a business plan (which you could get support to develop) and other supporting documentation.
The Fund is reviewing applications as they are submitted on a first come, first served basis. It is, therefore, a good idea to send in your Expression of Interest as soon as possible to be considered for funding in the coming year. The application process is interactive, we will work with you to agree on what the best type of support is for your organisation. We expect most organisations to take 3-4 months between step 1 and 4.
After an application for support has been approved, you will be sent a contract by the Forward Enterprise Fund. This will state the specific conditions for the funding. Some of the conditions relate to the legal status of your organisation, ensuring that it has a social purpose, which you can read about here.
The Forward Enterprise Fund will follow the progress of each grant and loan recipient to monitor the results versus the agreed targets. Our primary interest is to evaluate how your organisations' funding has benefitted the target groups of ex-offenders and people in recovery. Your funding will be monitored during your engagement with the fund and sometime afterwards through focus groups and surveys.
If you have been awarded match-funding for Crowdfunder campaigns, this will be paid out once your campaign has reached the agreed target. In some circumstances, we will disburse money when part of the campaign target has been met. This will be discussed and agreed during the application process.
Loans will be paid back in accordance with the terms of the agreement. There may be an opportunity for the Fund to secure a mentor or business advisor for loan recipients through its partners.
Last, but not least, you will become part of a network of organisations supporting each other to grow, whilst working with ex-offenders and people in recovery to access real work.