A £ 40,000 loan from Co-operative Action has helped the survival of a three-year project to develop the social enterprise sector.
The Social Enterprise Partnership needed the bridging loan until £ 1.9 million worth of European funding came through.
"The European Social Fund effectively reimburses for costs already incurred and is always paid in arrears," said John Goodman, Co-operatives UK representative on the SEP Board. "But this can put a great strain on working capital for organisations without large cash reserves."
The SEP aims to build the social enterprise sector, improve performance and influence national and regional policies and programmes as well as raising general awareness of the sector and its economic contribution.
It began two years ago with a membership gathered from the UK's leading social enterprise organisations and support from the European Social Fund under the EQUAL Community Initiative in Great Britain ? which combats discrimination and inequalities in the labour market.
The Department of Trade and Industry's Social Enterprise Unit and other government agencies have also contributed to the project funding.
SEP is working at regional, national and international levels with a portfolio of projects to help social enterprises to grow their business operations and identify threats such as under-investment and insufficient training.
The £ 4 million programme is developing nationally accredited training programmes, building a national register of consultants for the social enterprise sector and becoming a national leader in impact and quality measurement tools.
"The outcomes will be eagerly awaited after the project ends late next year," said Stephen Youd-Thomas of Co-operative Action. "To allow a temporary cash-flow problem to throw this valuable work off schedule was not really an option."
? SOCIAL enterprises will find it easier to share and access the knowledge and support available to help them set up and grow by using a new website launched by the Social Enterprise Coalition, www.socialenterprise.org.uk.
The website is expected to be the UK's single most useful source of information and support for social enterprises and will encourage all stakeholders in the sector to share best practice.