Forward Enterprise Fund

Status: Open to applications


Social investment is available for charities and social enterprises registered or operating in England that prioritise creating employment opportunities for people breaking the cycle of crime and addiction.

Maximum Value: £ 150,000
Minimum Value: £ 25,000

Value Notes

The Fund provides access to unsecured loans between £25,000 and £150,000 for revenue and / or capital projects (typical interest rate 7.5%) for up to a five-year term.
Eligible organisations will also have access to grants to pay for up to 10 days of pre-investment business support. Organisations who receive investment will also be able to apply for post-investment business support.

Extended Descriptions

The Forward Enterprise Fund is a £2 million social investment fund that supports individuals, charities and social enterprises run by, or creating employment opportunities for, ex-offenders and people in recovery from addiction.

Ex-offenders and people in recovery from addiction are two groups mainstream employers are least likely to recruit. Yet having a job can bring independence and self-respect, and is the single most effective factor in reducing the risk of re-offending.
The fund is a partnership between Social Investment Business and The Forward Trust backed by Access – The Foundation for Social Investment, Big Lottery Fund and Big Society Capital as part of their wider Growth Fund initiative.

Key Criteria

Charities, social enterprises and individuals can apply as long as they are based and registered within England.

The applicant's business or organisation must also either (or both):
  • Work with, or intend to work with, ex-offenders or people in recovery from addiction and create employment opportunities for people from these communities.
  • Be led by ex-offenders or people in recovery from addiction.
Applicants can refer to the 'How we think about Social Purpose’ on the Fund's website to understand what types of legal structures can be supported.

Eligible Expenditure 

The funding can support both revenue and capital-based projects that require investment above £25,000 and below £150,000.

The funding is to be used to provide formal market-rate jobs for ex-offenders and people in recovery from addiction where employees have employment contracts and benefits.

Match Funding Restrictions

Individuals or start-up enterprises with a bright idea can also access Crowdfunder support with match funding available from The Forward Trust.


The following are not eligible for funding:
  • Organisations not registered or operating in England.
  • Organisations seeking funding for religious or campaigning purposes.

Aplication Proceedure


The application process is as follows:
  • Organisations should first complete an expression of interest form (which includes an eligibility check) on the Forward Enterprise Fund website.
  • Those that meet the assessment criteria will be invited to a phone interview which will explore further information about their business, its infrastructure and aims, and the best course of action to fulfill their ambition.
  • Applicants who reach the telephone stage may be offered business support through one of the Fund’s approved/partner business support providers. Applicants will be able to pick from our business support directory. Business support will help applicants shape their business and reach the stage where they are ready to apply for investment. Depending on the suitability of their business idea, they could also receive support and match funding to start a crowdfunding campaign on Crowdfunder.
  • When ready, organisations will be able to apply for a loan. This application is handled by Social Investment Business. The application will ask for further information about their business, a business plan (which applicants could get support to develop) and other supporting documentation.
During the application process, the Forward Enterprise Fund will consider the following:
  • If the applicant is an ex-offender:
    • The victim sensitivity.
  • If the applicant is an ex-offender with an unspent conviction:
    • The type of offence committed.
    • The length of time since the offence was committed.
    • The length of time since the ex-offender was released from prison or end of a community sentence.

Contact the Forward Enterprise Fund for further information.

Addresses and Contacts

Application forms on their website, here.
Contact details:
Forward Trust 
The Foundry 
17, Oval Way 
SE11 5RR
020 3752 5560