Press release

Pioneering microfinance business wins Big Society Award

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Fair Finance, a social business which helps individuals and businesses access finance, is a Big Society Award winner, the PM has announced.

Established in 2005 by social entrepreneur and CEO Faisel Rahman, Fair Finance offers financial products and services to tackle financial exclusion. Fair Finance offers affordable loans as well as a free debt advice service and microfinance for small businesses and entrepreneurs struggling to access finance.

Over the last 5 years Fair Finance has pioneered fundraising for investment into businesses and services that have a social benefit as well as financial return, helping to bring nearly £10 million of social and commercial finance to support entrepreneurs as an alternative funding source to grants or donations.

Fair Finance has had the backing of major banks including Santander, BNPP, Societe Generale as well as individual and institutional social investors. Last week it signed further financing from Unicredit and the European Investment Fund to bring more finance to hard pressed entrepreneurs.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

Fair Finance has supported 200 London businesses to access the finance they need to get started or grow.

Britain is in a global race and our small businesses and entrepreneurs are vital to helping us compete and succeed. I’m delighted to be recognising the boost Fair Finance provides with this Big Society Award.

Faisel Rahman, CEO of Fair Finance, said:

The growth of the high cost credit market has shown how hard it is becoming for many people to access mainstream finance. Our ambition is to work with those not able to access traditional financing products, in many cases alongside banks, to help them achieve their business aspirations and avoid these high cost lenders.

In 7 years of operations Fair Finance has been able to provide a socially responsible alternative to high-cost lending for thousands of Londoners. Increasingly, entrepreneurs and small businesses have been asking for our support to help them build and grow. Our success in bringing finance to the excluded, responsibly and affordably has helped build confidence in this sector and demonstrates to the mainstream lenders the potential that we know exists. Our objective is to help businesses and individuals through this investment – to provide a catalyst to lending and reinvest into the local economy.

The financing deals Fair Finance has worked on will allow it to help nearly 1,000 entrepreneurs and small businesses in London and help move 50,000 away from high cost credit providers over the next 5 years.

Notes to editors

Media contact for Fair Finance: Becky Claydon 0208 988 0627

For more information visit

Fair Finance founder and managing director, Faisel Rahman, has been honoured with one of the first UK Ashoka fellowships for social entrepreneurs.

On the Big Society Awards:

The Big Society Awards were set up by the Prime Minister in November 2010. The aim is to acknowledge individuals and organisations across the UK that demonstrate the Big Society in their work or activities. In so doing, the aim is also to galvanise others to follow.

The award focuses on 3 specific areas:

  1. Outstanding contribution to community:
    • people, projects and organisations that enable communities to drive change themselves
    • projects and organisations that allow the community to identify solutions
    • people, projects and organisations that inspire others to contribute to their community
  2. Improving lives and society through innovation, collaboration and new partnerships:
    • people and organisations taking new approaches to public services
    • successful collaboration and partnerships between public, private and voluntary sector - working together to benefit communities
  3. Engaging in social action:
    • people, projects and organisations taking action in their community
    • working together for social change (e.g. through creating groups, campaigns, movements)
    • generosity of time, money, skills and other resources – in support of social action

Launching the awards, the Prime Minister said:

There are some amazing projects and remarkable voluntary work going on in towns and cities up and down the country, by all kinds of organisations from large enterprises to tiny grassroots schemes and inspirational individuals.

These awards are a chance to pay tribute to those making a valuable contribution to their community, the real champions of the Big Society, but perhaps more importantly, I hope they will motivate many others to take action, get involved and drive change in their area.

Nominations come in from the general public after which there follows a process of scoring and short-listing by civil servants and a further short-listing by a panel of ministers and independent external experts. This panel makes recommendations to the Prime Minister who makes the final decisions about who to make the award to. Twelve winners are decided each quarter meeting and then announced once a week throughout the year.

For more information visit

Enquiries: Lucy Windmill 07795445197

Over 90 winners have been announced to date, including:

City Gateway City Gateway runs programmes that train, support and give opportunities to young people and women.

M&S Shwopping Marks & Spencer’s Shwopping initiative - buy something new, bring in something old. This clothes recycling initiative reduces landfill, helps us think differently about clothes waste and the money raised goes to Oxfam.

Linklaters LLP Learn for Work is an international scheme which Linklaters runs in 16 countries working with over 7,500 children in 80 schools. In Hackney the firm is now running its second three-year scheme, with each scheme being backed by £1 million in funding. Every year over 400 staff give 3,500 hours of their time to support 2,500 young people in more than 50 schools. Linklaters staff benefit from the scheme as it offers them the chance to share their skills and inspire the next generation; over 75% of the firm’s volunteers have greater job satisfaction after taking part in the scheme and 20 have gone on to become school governors.

For a full list of winners visit