Place-based impact investing growing in UK – Big Society Capital and Bristol Council invest £10 million in new fund

Big Society Capital, the UK’s leading social impact investor, and Bristol City Council are today announced as cornerstone investors in City Funds. This is a place-based impact investment fund aiming to address the causes and effects of inequality, whilst also generating a financial return for investors.


City Funds will invest in impact-driven organisations alongside aligned grants and other resources to achieve positive social impact within key communities in Bristol. Specific themes to be addressed include:

  • Economic Inclusion: funding initiatives that promote full participation and ownership in a diverse and local economy
  • Environmental Transformation: funding the transition to a carbon neutral, zero-waste city, that promotes the health of the natural environment
  • Community Initiatives: funding community initiatives to help them play an impactful role in Bristol and develop community resilience
  • No Child Goes Hungry: funding initiatives that help communities grow, purchase, prepare and cook fresh, healthy and affordable food

In recent years interest has been rising in place-based impact investment alongside a growing social impact investment market which is now worth over £2.3 billion in the UK alone. Place-based impact investment refers to impact investments made into a variety of social sector organisations (such as social enterprises and charities) tackling different social issues within a specific geographic location. By tackling multiple issues in a coordinated and collaborative way, we believe greater levels of transformation can be achieved than multiple transactions with positive goals made in silos.

While many elements of this approach have been seen before, The Bristol One City plan (which the City Funds is a part of) is the first time every element has come together in this way, as part of an aligned vision for a place.

Anna Shiel, Head of Origination at Big Society Capital, commented:

“To tackle deep-rooted challenges such as inequality and poverty, we need thriving and inclusive local communities. We believe the best way to help foster this is to bring together investment, grant funding and government support for social enterprises and charities that use enterprise to improve lives in local areas. This is why we are championing place-based investment, and why we have chosen Bristol as our first partner. It is clear they are leading the way, with great energy, wide collaboration, and a strong plan.”

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol commented:

“Aligning investment in City Funds to the One City Plan and delivering against the key challenges the city faces will be truly transformational for the city. Achieving investment from Big Society Capital and grant funding from Power to Change at this early stage in the development of the Funds shows how successful this approach can be and is a real step forward towards delivering inclusive and sustainable growth.”

Ed Rowberry, City Funds board member and Chief Executive at BBRC, said:

“Bristol is known for innovative problem-solving and City Funds is another example of a city determined to design home-grown solutions to local challenges. In the same way, this fund is designed to enable the real Bristol heroes—the local projects and businesses with the ambition to have a positive effect in our communities. As City Funds supports them to succeed, we will help make Bristol a place where everyone can thrive.”



Case study of investee in Bristol available on request

City Funds has also secured £250,000 of grant from Power to Change, this will be utilised to support community businesses in Bristol secure the investment they need to increase their positive social or environmental impact. For further information please contact Ryan Munn (details below)


Big Society Capital is the leading financial institution dedicated to social impact investment in the UK. We exist to improve people’s lives by uniting capital, expertise and ideas to create opportunities for investors and enterprises to generate life-changing impact.

We collaborate with investors and expert partners to achieve systemic, sustained and measured impact, while targeting positive, sustainable returns and building the UK social impact investment market.

We invest into funds, fund managers and social banks which then invest in or lend principally to social enterprises and charities that are dedicated to achieving social impact. Our work includes pioneering new approaches with our partners to achieve breakthroughs in new markets for lasting system change.

Press Contact

Kathryn Mortimer, Press Officer, Big Society Capital

T: 020 7186 2537, E:


City Funds is working to transform Bristol by funding solutions that target the causes and effects of inequality. A partnership between Bristol & Bath Regional Capital, Quartet Community Foundation, and Bristol City Council, City Funds uses its £10 million Community Ventures Fund and aligned grants to strengthen organisations solving some of the biggest problems facing Bristol. By partnering with communities, sectors, experts and other funders, City Funds is facilitating new solutions to inequality.

Press Contact

Ryan Munn

T: 07856 001471, E: