Our year one review

How a £1m investment created dozens of jobs, attracted £10.5m extra funding and transformed communities

Community businesses in the Liverpool City Region are bucking the national high street trend and creating dozens of new local jobs after receiving funding from Kindred, supported by Mayor Steve Rotheram and the Combined Authority (CA), and Power to Change.

Mayor Rotheram has hailed the transformative effect of Kindred, as new figures show that the first £1m of investments generated 77 new jobs and attracted £10.5m of additional funding.

“Socially-trading businesses play a unique and vital role in the local communities they operate in and I’m incredibly proud that our area is a powerhouse of principled, community-focused business. Their positive impact can be felt right across the region, accounting for nearly 10% of all jobs and add a whopping £3bn to our local economy,” said Mayor Rotheram.

“The very essence of devolution is taking power away from the centre; I didn’t want to wrestle decision making away from Whitehall only to hoard it in my offices. That is what Kindred is all about: working with community businesses to design and develop a programme that would help them deliver on their potential.

“Owned and managed by the sector, it’s already making good on our investment by creating good, local jobs and attracting nearly ten times its funding into the area. It has made a fantastic start and I’m sure will only go from strength to strength, which will only continue to benefit local people and communities.”

We invested our first £1m in 20 socially-trading organisations (STOs) across the city region in spring 2021. Collectively, the 20 STOs nearly doubled their number of employees from 81 to 158. Their combined turnover also doubled from £1.88m to £3.76m, and they attracted a further £10.5m of additional investment.

Make CIC’s co-founder and chief operations officer Kirsten Little

Five Birkenhead STOs – Make Hamilton, Future Yard, Open Door Centre, Hype Merseyside, and Grow Wellbeing – collectively received 20% of that first round of investment, around £200,000.

Investment in these STOs in Birkenhead created a cluster effect that is helping transform the town. Birkenhead has become an outstanding example of the impact of socially trading organisations, with a cluster of community businesses helping to transform the town.

The five STOs have since created 50 new jobs in the town, increased their turnover by £1.3m and attracted £9.4m in additional funds. Their impact, alongside other Birkenhead-based STOs, helps support the small business ecosystem, improves people’s lives, and helps create a vibrant sense of place. Clustering sees other businesses attracted to an area by the growing activity there. For instance, in Birkenhead, a bakery and pottery have moved to the area. The impact of the cluster effect is exponential.

Cllr Janette Williamson, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Portfolio Holder for Inclusive Economy and the Third Sector, and Leader of Wirral Council, said, “The socially-trading sector plays a vital role in our economy and is something that we are rightly proud of as a city region. That’s why we were so keen to back the creation of Kindred and why it is so heartening to see this evaluation of their first investment.

“The figures spell out just how productive the investment has been, in terms of creating jobs and attracting investment into our communities. And the impact on Birkenhead shows how creating a cluster of social businesses multiplies the impact of any support, reviving the entire area.”

Jennifer Van Der Merwe, Kindred’s director, said, “If this growth continues, Birkenhead is on the verge of becoming a high-growth cluster. But it’s growth that creates social good – not just profit. Much of the funding these STOs have attracted since their Kindred investment is from the Towns Deal, which shows the national government has noticed the merging potential of social businesses in Birkenhead. It is also now investing in this entrepreneur-led high growth cluster of socially-trading organisations.”