By Andrew Holt
A new CEO has been appointed at the Key Fund, the leading provider of finance to social enterprises across the North.
Karl Gardiner began his career in investment banking followed by a decade in investment fund development and regional economic regeneration.
Gardiner was previously director of North East Finance and director at economic development consultancy, Feed Fusion Consulting.
Gardiner said: “My experience and career background will hopefully add significantly to the critically important work of the Key Fund.
"I started out in investment banking but moved into the economic development sector because of a desire to use my expertise to make a greater contribution to the growth of early-stage businesses and community regeneration in the north of England. I saw an opportunity to make social enterprises more sustainable.”
Gardiner replaces Ann Oldroyd, who steps down after ten years’ service.
Social enterprise is a growing and inspiring business movement across the world.
Social enterprises are businesses which exist to address social or environmental need.
Rather than maximising profit for shareholders or owners, profits are reinvested into the community or back into the business.
The Sheffield-based Key Fund, which itself is a social enterprise, offers finance in the form of loans, grants and equity packages to other social enterprises and not-for-profit organisations.
Under Oldroyd’s leadership, the Key Fund has supported 2,000 organisations, aiding 6,500 training opportunities, 175 new business start-ups, and the creation or safeguarding of 1,822 jobs.
The Key Fund is one of just 50 organisations chosen by the European Research Development Fellowship to feature as a case study, and is now in a position of attracting new capital to increase its lending capacity.
It has recently announced a pilot scheme in partnership with the Arts Council to deliver the Creative Industry Finance programme across the Yorkshire and Humber region, offering finance and practical advice to creative entrepreneurs.
Gardiner added: “What’s so fascinating about social and community enterprise is that it is a massively diverse and vibrant sector with substantial growth potential. These businesses have the potential to make a very real difference to people’s lives and the transformation of their communities on a day-to-day basis.”
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