British Prime Minister David Cameron Wednesday launched his Big Society Bank — a £600 million fund to support charities and social enterprises in the way venture capitalists back entrepreneurs.
The bank, also known as Big Society Capital, has £600 million in funds, including £400 million from unclaimed bank accounts which have been dormant for more than 15 years. Britain’s four biggest banks are contributing £200 million over the next five years as part of their commitment to expand lending.
“Big Society Capital is going to encourage charities and social enterprises to prove their business models, and then replicate them,” Cameron said in a speech at the London Stock Exchange.
“Once they’ve proved that success in one area they’ll be able — just as a business can — to seek investment for expansion into the wider region and into the country.”
The Big Society is Cameron’s concept of fostering more individual and community initiatives to deal with a wide range of social issues as his government slashes spending in a drive to reduce debt.
Opinion surveys have found that about half of voters think the Big Society is a good idea, but an even larger number say they don’t understand the government’s plans to implement it.
Sir Ronald Cohen, a pioneering European venture capitalist who founded Apax Partners, is the bank’s chairman and Nick O’Donoghoe, former global head of research at JP Morgan, is the chief executive, Associated Press reported.