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.
Allia’s mission is to create social benefit for society by supporting people and organisations to make a positive impact for people, planet or place. We do this in three ways: through providing access to finance, by providing affordable workspace teamed with the business support to succeed and by innovating and incubating new solutions with other experts
Since those early days Allia has issued nearly £60m in bonds providing grants to a whole range of charitable organisations around the UK. We have continued to innovate in the area of social finance and in 2014, launched our Retail Charity Bonds platform to connect charitable organisations with socially responsible mainstream investors. These Retail Charity Bonds are listed on London Stock Exchange and have so far raised £58m in loan finance for charitable organisations. A partnership with the Scottish Government means loans of £31m have been made to Scottish Housing Associations to build affordable homes and a further £7.8m of grant funding for social housing has been created.
As early as 2008 Allia could see that there was a demand for affordable workspace and specialist support if enterprises and entrepreneurs with a social mission were to succeed. After taking over a temporary location for a couple of years, Allia acquired a site in Cambridge in 2010 for the creation of a new centre with the aim of providing workspace, inspiration and support to people and ventures wanting to make a positive impact.
The Future Business Centre in Cambridge opened its doors in 2014 and since then has supported over 400 impact ventures to start up and grow, creating 240 jobs and helping them to raise £20m of investment. Allia opened another Future Business Centre in Peterborough in 2015 and is already considering a further two centres in other cities.
Our structured programmes like Serious Impact, launched in July 2016 and Social Incubator East, (now Cambridge Social Ventures) provide free expert support, training and guidance to help impact ventures start and scale. You can read about their successes on our Future Business Centre and Serious Impact websites.