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Loan puts a buzz into social business

Beekeeper creating honey pot around former pit

BeesA honey-maker and beekeeper has secured government support to convert a former coal mine into Scotland’s first community market garden.

Kelvin Valley Honey has already installed beehives at the Scottish parliament and Linlithgow Palace and wants to create Scotland’s Honeybee Experience for tourists.

Paul Holmes, the chairman, said a £250,000 loan from the Social Growth Fund will make it possible to develop the first 25 acres of the garden.”

The company intends to transform the 42 acre pit three miles from Kilsyth in North Lanarkshire. The loan is one of the first through the £16 million Fund. Since it opened in May £150,000 has been allocated to the Factory Skatepark in Dundee and £1m to iPower to combat fuel poverty.

Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil said: “We recognise that social enterprises strengthen our economy and support our aims of creating a fairer society, but we need to have the right environment for them to flourish. That is why it’s crucial for us to provide direct support and investment through schemes like the Social Growth Fund.”

The Fund is comprised of £8m of loan repayments from recipients of the Scottish Investment Fund which have been reinvested by the Scottish Government, and £8m from Big Society Capital.

It is managed by Social Investment Scotland (SIS) whose chairman Nick Kuenssberg said: “Kelvin Valley Honey is a fantastic example of how a social enterprise can leverage investment to help it secure long term financial security and no longer need to rely on grant funding. This is exactly what the Social Growth Fund was set up to support.

“The social impact of Kelvin Valley Honey captures the whole community and its membership of over 220 local residents is growing. Its well-researched business case makes it one of the leading social enterprises in Scotland and we look forward to seeing its exciting plans move forward in 2015.”

 

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