SOCIAL Justice Secretary Alex Neil has given one Kelvin Valley firm a sweet loan that is sure to have the company buzzing for years to come.
The Scottish Government Social Justice Secretary announced on Wednesday (21 January) that bees throughout Scotland will be boosted through a £16million Social Growth Fund.
As part of the fund, Kelvin Valley Honey, which sells honey-based products and provides equipment and training to budding bee keepers, scooped up £250,000 worth of funding – that will enable the firm to expand and diversify its business.
Announcing the funding, Mr Neil said: “Kelvin Valley Honey’s unique plans will not only help bees produce honey, pollinate crops and wild plants, but will provide educational opportunities and help build a community garden in Kilsyth.”
The plans for the nationwide £16million fund include expanding the Beekeeping for Business scheme, which has already seen beehives installed at the Scottish Parliament and Linlithgow Palace, the creation of a new workspace and advice service for social entrepreneurs, and the introduction of an interactive tourist centre, Scotland’s Honeybee Experience, in the spring of this year.
“We recognise that social enterprises strengthen our economy and support our aims of creating a fairer society, but we need to have the right environment for them to flourish. That is why it’s crucial for us to provide direct support and investment through schemes like the Social Growth Fund,” Mr Neil explained.
Kelvin Valley Honey has confirmed that a selection of their profits will be put towards the £1million transformation of a 42 acre former coal mine pit, into Scotland’s first commercial community-owned market garden, three miles from Kilsyth.
The £250,000 loan to the Kelvin Valley firm is one of the first confirmed allocations of funding through the £16 million Social Growth Fund.
Since the fund opened in May £150,000 has been allocated to the Factory Skatepark in Dundee and £1 million to iPower to combat fuel poverty.
Mr Neil added: “This Fund encourages our entrepreneurs and enterprising organisations to think of innovative ways to tackle inequalities and help us to deliver a better Scotland.”
As well as helping to regenerate the former mining area, Kelvin Valley Honey’s plans will create more training opportunities and jobs for young people and those with disabilities, and continue to grow the honey bee population.
Welcoming the funding, Paul Holmes, Chairman of Kelvin Valley Honey, said: “To say that we’re delighted to be granted the Social Growth Fund loan is an understatement. It delivers a major boost in our ability to finance our wider environmental, social and economically beneficial objectives and enhance our long term sustainability.
“Without it we would not be in the position to progress many of this year’s new initiatives which will considerably increase the organisation’s growth potential. This in turn is what will make the £1 million development of the first 25 acres of the market garden possible.”
The £16 million Social Growth Fund is comprised of £8 million of loan repayments from recipients of the Scottish Investment Fund which have been reinvested by the Scottish Government, and £8 million from Big Society Capital.
Established in 2001, Social Investment Scotland – which manages the Scottish Investment Fund on behalf of the Scottish Government – provides a new finance model for Scotland’s charities and social enterprises.
Since its establishment, Social Investment Scotland has invested over £43million in nearly 180 organisations across Scotland.
Commenting on the recent loan to Kelvin Valley Honey, Nick Kuenssberg, Chair of Social Investment Scotland said: “Kelvin Valley Honey is a fantastic example of how a social enterprise can leverage investment to help it secure long term financial security and no longer need to rely on grant funding. This is exactly what the Social Growth Fund was set up to support.
“The social impact of Kelvin Valley Honey captures the whole community and its membership of over 220 local residents is growing. Its well-researched business case makes it one of the leading social enterprises in Scotland and we look forward to seeing its exciting plans move forward in 2015.”
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