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Community Investment Enterprise Facility

The Community Investment Enterprise Facility supports CDFIs to meet their capital needs while building a better understanding of the social and financial performance of CDFIs.

  • 20% Percentage of investments to MSMEs are made in the 10% most deprived neighbourhoods, according to the Indices of Multiple Deprivation
  • 16% Percentage of CIEF applications that had lead applicants from BAME backgrounds (national average 5%)
  • 41% Percentage of applicants that had been rejected for finance elsewhere in the previous year


Many small businesses can’t access mainstream finance, even though they’re essential to disadvantaged communities across the UK, as employers of local people and drivers of economic activity.


Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs) are alternative lenders that are meeting this need. socially-motivated and rooted in communities, they help small organisations grow their business, which then improves their local economies and communities.

However, CDFIs also face barriers to achieving long-term sustainability and securing capital at a scale that meets the full needs of small businesses. To address this, we invested £30 million to establish the Community Investment Enterprise Facility (CIEF) and encourage other investors to come alongside us. Managed by Social Investment Scotland (SIS), this facility will meet some of the capital needs of CDFIs, build a better understanding of the social and financial performance of CDFIs, and test models for funding CDFIs that support them to scale. CIEF invests in four CDFIs across the North and Midlands to help meet the needs of underserved micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that make a positive impact in their communities. ​


Overall, the potential social and economic impact of the CIEF looks positive. The average size of the loans made so far is £52,285. There’s been good reach into BAME communities, to MSMEs who have struggled to access finance elsewhere, and more economically deprived areas, particularly when compared to UK SMEs as a whole. ​

The CDFI response throughout COVID-19 using CIEF has been especially important. The fund adjusted to make emergency loans available through the Coronavirus Business Loan Interruption Scheme (CBILS), and in the first few weeks of the crisis, it lent £6 million to 120 organisations. There’s still much to be done, both to support the recovery and for the communities disproportionately affected by the crisis, but CDFIs are showing they can play an important role in this.​