08 Dec 2018

Using repayable Finance to achieve social purpose

Our founder, Cecil Jackson Cole, always understood the importance of being open to using the widest possible use of resources for social good. In his lifetime, it was the use of business-thinking in charitable enterprises that often led to the greatest successes. He set up ACT with the same principles and our trust deed gives us the widest possible parameters with which to utilise our resources for social good.

With our new focus on tackling the links between housing and poverty, we realise that many charities and social enterprises are not going to be able to realise their vision for accommodation-based change without the need for repayable finance. Grants and donations are never going to provide sufficient finance to meet the capital costs of property and often are not appropriate for the types of working capital needed to support on-going revenue costs.

So this year, we have agreed and financed two very different property-based enterprises in two very different ways:


Abode Impact was launched in July 2017 to allow people to get a step up onto the property ladder, starting with those with greatest need: wheelchair users. This year, they will bring to market the first accessible housing fund for London, targeting financial returns and social impact. The fund will purchase 1 and 2 bedroom new build flats in Outer London. These homes will be adapted for wheelchair users and located close to accessible public transport links.

Eleanor Bowden and David Toplas joined forces through a shared passion to improve the lives of people currently underserved by the private housing market in the UK. They have put together a specialist team combining expertise across social impact and residential investment and are incubated by the Mill Group a specialist investment manager with 20 year track record in real asset investment and management.

ACT has provided Abode Impact with a loan to provide early stage seed funding to enable Eleanor and David to develop the investment fund. This loan is given with interest applied over a five year period to allow the organisation to repay once accessible houses have been purchased and are being on-sold to individual wheelchair users or social housing providers.


Mustard Seed Property aim to invest in houses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly for use as supported accommodation for vulnerable adults and those at risk of homelessness.

A six bedroomed house in Helston is already in use, with support provided by local partner organisations specialising in support for vulnerable adults and those with learning disabilities.

Their second fund raise was for an additional property, which will accommodate a further 9 vulnerable adults in Cornwall. Using the Ethex retail investment platform, individuals and local investors are offered the potential to earn a 4.5% targeted return on investments from just £250. ACT provided a matching pot of £50,000 to match this retail offer resulting in the organisation raising above their minimum target before the close date.