The Enterprise Fund is an ambition to re-establish the business philanthropy shown by early members of The Merchant Company and at the same time provide both benefit to the City of Edinburgh and the surrounding area and a new and stimulating area for member involvement, led the Master’s Court to approve an initiative to provide grants and mentoring to aid business development and birth, particularly in more deprived areas, with the long-term objectives of furthering community development and encouraging employment.
A new company entitled the Edinburgh Merchant Company Enterprise Fund Limited has been set up and has been granted charitable status by OSCR. The Fund will encourage entrepreneurship and business birth by providing modest financial assistance and advice to individuals who, through background or life chances, may not otherwise have the ambition or opportunity to start their own business.
Mentoring by Company members will be a key element in the support provided, allowing individuals to benefit from the huge resource of skill, experience and knowledge held within the Company.
It is expected that supported businesses will be better businesses and consequently will contribute to the communities in which they are located by providing employment and assisting to regeneration.
Corporate and personal donations are being sought from Edinburgh businesses and Company members to provide the seed capital for the Fund and a detailed prospectus for potential donors can be downloaded below.
The thinking behind the creation of the Fund lies in five main areas.
Since its creation in 1681 The Edinburgh Merchant Company has had a history of being involved in business and commerce but this involvement in the business community has largely been lost over the years as the Company’s activities have increasingly concentrated on education and charitable work with the young and the frail and elderly.
With its history in commerce, The Merchant Company should be involved in the development of the local economy and encouraging entrepreneurship and business birth, particularly in areas of low employment. In addition, with its reputation and contacts within the business community and tertiary education sector, it is in an ideal position to deliver these objectives.
With 550 members, it is difficult to involve everyone that would wish to be involved in the work of the Company. This is particularly relevant at a time when there are new members joining who wish to contribute and become involved, and without engagement, their initial enthusiasm can quickly evaporate.
Greater involvement and a higher pro le in supporting business development may help the Company achieve a key objective of attracting more members and at the same time provide an excellent opportunity to raise the Company’s profile throughout the Edinburgh business and tertiary education sectors.
The Merchant Company is in everything for the long game. Relatively small initiatives begun hundreds of years ago, through good management and prudent stewarding by Company members, have grown into today’s substantial charitable funds, with no better examples than the Company’s schools and Thee Merchant Company Endowments Trust.