Stepping Stones Finance Facility

The Stepping Stones Finance Facility is a partnership programme between The Clothworkers’ Foundation, UBS and City Bridge Foundation and is a follow-on loan scheme for Stepping Stones grant programme alumni. It provides repayable finance to new enterprise activity at affordable rates and is designed to help borrowers build their businesses before they approach the main social investment market.

What form will the investment take?

The Stepping Stones Finance Facility offers loans of up to £50,000 on the following terms:

  • Rates of 0–4% (depending on the borrower)
  • Loan terms of up to 5 years
  • Provision for early repayment

Loan applications are decided on a case by case basis and all borrowing requests will be subject to due diligence by the lender. Borrowers can only hold one loan at a time.

The Stepping Stones Finance Facility is a loan facility and all finance is provided on the basis that the borrower is able and expected to repay within the timeframe and at the rate specified in the loan agreement. Borrowers whose circumstances change following investment are encouraged to engage in dialogue with the lender at the earliest possible opportunity. Borrowers will also have the option to apply for pro-bono post-investment mentoring support from an experienced UBS employee volunteer.

Who can apply for a loan from the Stepping Stones Finance Facility?

Loans are available to organisations that:

  • have previously received a Stepping Stones grant and have submitted final monitoring to a satisfactory standard;
  • are incorporated in the UK;
  • are one of the following at the time of the loan:
    • Registered charity
    • Registered Community Interest Company limited by guarantee
    • Charitable company (which must be registered with both Companies House and the Charity Commission)
    • Exempt or excepted charity or
    • Registered charitable industrial and provident society, or charitable BenCom.

Who are the lenders?

City Bridge Foundation, The Clothworkers’ Foundation and UBS’s Donor Advised Foundation are all contributing to the Stepping Stones Finance Facility. Borrowers will receive their loan from one of these three partners, and the three lenders have aligned their processes and terms to ensure that borrowing terms do not vary significantly.

Nest steps

To express interest in the loan facility please contact for full details of the application process and loan terms.

About the lenders

We currently award over £30 million to charities across the capital and have made a further £200 million available in the five years to 2026 to support London’s charity sector.

The City of London Corporation is the sole trustee of City Bridge Foundation and members of its Court of Common Council form the City Bridge Foundation Grants Committee.

The Clothworkers’ Foundation was set up by The Clothworkers’ Company in 1977. Since then it has awarded (mainly capital) grants totalling more than £130m. Its primary aim today is to improve the lives of people and communities, particularly those facing disadvantage, deprivation and/​or discrimination.

Community Affairs is UBS’s programme of investment in education and social entrepreneurship to achieve positive impact in our local community. We invest through a combination of grants and employee volunteering. Our social entrepreneurship programme in the UK involves working both directly with social enterprises and with intermediaries who are supporting social enterprises to develop and scale their impact.

The UBS UK Donor-Advised Foundation (or DAF’) is a UK-registered charity established and supported by UBS to help facilitate philanthropic giving by UBS clients. The DAF has the power to make loans to UK social enterprises. Recommendations for Stepping Stones Finance Facility loans will be made to the DAF trustees by UBS Community Affairs.

UBS provides financial advice and solutions to wealthy, institutional and corporate clients worldwide, as well as private clients in Switzerland.