Taking on a loan is never a decision to be taken lightly. Ironically (or not), just as we promote due diligence amongst our trainees around borrowing, so we at YOP have considered this very carefully, starting the conversation over a year ago.
Why have we done it? Being a social enterprise is tough. In that way we’re no different to a charity. What we do is complex, and therefore time-consuming, and therefore expensive. We are genuinely striving to find solutions to one of society’s most intractable problems – homelessness
What is different to being a charity? Our ambition to a) not be dependent on short-term restricted income, the shortcomings of which I have written about before b) to be on a level playing field with business in our language, professionalism and ambition and c) to reinvest 100% of our (unrestricted) profit into achieving our aim.
Why Sumerian? We’ve been approached and have approached social investors over the past few years. There is little experience to draw on locally and most investors’ terms simply don’t suit the small, high-risk, stand-alone business. I met Chris from Sumerian giving a talk to us on The Young Foundation accelerator programme. A chance encounter that I followed up on and started a conversion. Chris, Amy and Sumerian Partners get us and they get the sector.
They understand that social enterprise is tough. That progress is slow and that at our age it’s common to hit a brick wall, through which many enterprises fail to push and therefore stagnate or close. As such the terms of a long-term loan that has been negotiated as equals on a journey of learning, feels akin to our values, ambitions and the work we do.
What are we going to do with the cash? We’re recruiting an Operational Manager. This post will be overseeing YOP, all projects and our incredible team. This will in turn free me up to develop the business and make it sustainable.
To say it’s exciting is an understatement. To say it’s squeaky bum time is also an understatement. It’s the most fantastic opportunity for a new member of the team, for me, for YOP and we can’t wait to work alongside Sumerian.