BWB has been at the forefront of the social investment market for over two decades. We represented the Bishop of Oxford in the 1991 case which established the ability of charities to engage in socially responsible investment. In 2002, we advised on the establishment of Charity Bank and later on CAF-Venturesome. Today, we remain at the cutting edge, advising Big Society Capital and other clients on leading social investment transactions and innovations.  

A social investment is an investment made for a financial and a social return - a way of investing money whilst at the same time creating positive value for society. In a UK context, it is more often than not an investment into a civil society organisation. It is a growing area of investment activity and will form an increasingly important source of income for charities and social enterprises in the years to come.

Our Clients

The BWB Social Finance team has an unsurpassed depth of knowledge and experience of the legal and practical issues affecting investors, intermediaries and civil society organisations engaging in social finance activity. We are known for our down-to-earth approach and commitment.

Our clients include a number of the leading players in social finance, charities, social enterprises, co-operatives, credit unions, community development finance institutions, social finance intermediaries, banks, social lenders, social investors and venture philanthropists. 

Our Services  

Our Social Finance team spans the whole spectrum of social finance transactions and activity:

  • Preparing loan and security documentation for secured and unsecured lending
  • Advising on equity investment in social enterprises 
  • Advising on investment fund structures and establishment
  • Advising managers and investees in relation to social investment fund investments
  • Advising on the charity law aspects of social finance activity
  • Designing quasi-equity instruments, including revenue participation and royalties 
  • Advising on community interest company dividend and interest caps
  • Advising on intermediary activity, including crowd-funding mechanisms
  • Preparing share and loan issue documentation for public and community offers
  • Managing the financial services aspects of transactions
  • Advising on all related regulatory, constitutional and governance issues

Most social finance transactions are bespoke and require tailor-made solutions which honour the integrity and social purpose of the civil society organisation benefiting from the investment. Our historic strengths in charity and social enterprise give us a profound insight into the distinctive features and imperatives which shape social investment transactions with a UK dimension.

We are also leading the way in social investment policy development, including:

  • Advising the City of London on its social investment strategy
  • Acting as ‘civil society champions’ on the social investment theme of the Government’s Red Tape Challenge process
  • Seeking social investment amendments to the Financial Services Bill
  • Making the case for London as a “Global Centre for Social Investment”
  • Making the case for mixed motive investment in the Charity Commission’s revised guidance on investment by charities, known as CC14
  • Putting forward proposals for a new social enterprise fund structure
  • Engaging in thought leadership and publishing policy papers, such as Ten Reforms to Grow the Social Investment Market and Investing in Civil Society: A Framework for a Bespoke Regime

Examples of Our Work

  • Big Society Capital – advice on group structure, constitution and governance
  • Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund – advice on establishment and charity law
  • Big Issue Invest – advice on establishment and charity law
  • BuzzBnk – advice on establishment of a crowd-funding website 
  • CAF-Venturesome – advice on investment documentation
  • Charity Bank – advice on establishment, regulatory capital and corporate advice
  • Eden Project – advice on refinancing and security documentation 
  • Empower Community – establishment of a community renewable energy fund
  • Energy4All, The Green Valleys CIC, Water Power Enterprises – advice on community finance 
  • Hackney Community Transport – advice on loan note issue documentation
  • Peterborough Social Impact Bond – advice to charity investors on structure and risks
  • Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise – advice on a joint venture with the ZOPA lending platform
  • Social Finance – advice on establishment and charity investment
  • Social Stock Exchange – advice on establishment, structure and investment
  • Young Foundation – advice on revenue participation lending arrangements