SJ Berwin helps community funds

SJ Berwin has advised pro bono on the creation of the UK’s first community development venture funds

The new £40m investment funds opened for business last week, aimed at boosting enterprise in disadvantaged communities by increasing access to finance for local entrepreneurs.
SJ Berwin got involved in the project via longstanding client Apax Partners. Apax founder and chairman Sir Ronald Cohen led the Social Investment Taskforce set up by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown in 2000. The funds have been set up following one of its main recommendations.
Apax and 3i, another SJ Berwin client, are majority owners of the new private equity management company set up for the project, known as Bridges Community Ventures.
SJ Berwin private equity partner John Daghlian led the team advising the company, assisted by Solomon Wifa.
Daghlian said: “We were delighted to be asked to work on this project and because we believe it is the kind of area where venture capital can make a positive impact on the quality of life in England’s disadvantaged areas, we worked on a pro bono basis. I believe this is the first UK community development fund, and we enjoyed working on such a promising project.”
The funds are supported by £20m of commitments from the private sector and £20m of commitments in matching funds from the Government. The aim is to provide venture capital to enterprises that have strong employment, supplier or market relationships with some of the most deprived areas in England.