Allia started in 1999 under the name Citylife, to raise money for employment initiatives through local campaigns in communities around the UK. We developed a charitable bond mechanism that allowed investors to make a low-risk ethical investment in social housing and donate the yield upfront in support of various charitable projects.
Ten years and £10 million of bond issues later, we decided to use our experience to help raise funds for a wider range of social ventures. We changed our name to Allia and created an online platform to provide a new way of donating to charity through the Charitable Bond. To date we’ve raised around £30 million through bonds, providing grants to a range of different charities.
In 2005 we also started to look at how to support the emerging social enterprise sector in Cambridge. We acquired our first site in 2006 and took on management of further sites over the following years, offering workspace and support to small enterprises and community groups. This experience led to the creation of the Future Business Centre, a £9m purpose-built hub for social and environmental enterprises which opened in November 2013.