Social investment boost for North East cycling business

The Cycle Hub

Big Issue Invest provided a loan to help The Cycle Hub refurbish its premises.

A social enterprise dedicated to getting more of us cycling across the North East has secured funding to assist with the refurbishment costs of its new premises.

Situated beside the River Tyne in Quayside, The Cycle Hub is a social enterprise that promotes and facilitates cycling, complete with bike hire facilities, café, bike shop and repair workshop.

The Cycle Hub was co-founded in 2012 by Newcastle’s Cycle Centre and cycling holiday company Saddle Skedaddle after the two groups saw the need for a place where Newcastle’s growing cycling community could meet after a ride. Since it was established, The Cycle Hub has created new six jobs and has already provided advice and support to many local people about the health benefits of cycling.

The Cycle Hub secured a £25,000 loan from Big Issue Invest, the social investment arm of The Big Issue.

“In many ways, being a social enterprise is just like being any type of business,” says Emma Hallington, marketing manager for The Cycle Hub and Saddle Skedaddle. “But it can be difficult for traditional lenders to see that our aims go beyond just profit, and so they are sometimes wary to lend to us.”

That’s where Big Issue Invest comes in, says Rod Jones, Regional Director for the North East and Cumbria at Big Issue Invest.

“As a lender we exist to help worthwhile social businesses get the access to funding that they need to grow and develop their businesses so that they can help more people.

“We have enjoyed working with The Cycle Hub and their ambitions to get more people out cycling is one we can all support.”

Adds Emma: “We all know that cycling has the twin benefits of improving people’s health, if they take regular exercise, and reducing traffic congestion, if more people commute by bike. It really is a win win situation.”

According to Rod Jones, funding for social businesses can be hard to get, as many commercial lenders have no experience of lending to organisations that are not all about making a profit.

He says: “Businesses like The Cycle Hub play an important part in delivering services that our communities need, but aren’t usually provided by commercial operators. That’s where Big Issue Invest comes in, to help lend to this sort of business.

“At a time when 15% of UK small businesses rate access to finance as the most pressing issue they face, Big Issue Invest is here to support social businesses in the North East, be they charities, co-operatives or social enterprises like The Cycle Hub. People can find out more at our website”