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Community-Led Housing Projects Recieve £15m Funding Boost

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Lovely Council Houses by PROMikey via flickr

A £15m social investors investment facility to fund large-scale community-run housing projects has been launched today by Big Society Capital

The Community-led Housing Facility will support the growth of community-led housing by investing alongside other social investors into projects across the UK.

Community-led housing is a way for local residents, who identify the need for affordable homes, to work together to design and build homes for those most in need. Organisations take a range of forms including Community Land Trusts (CLTs), Cohousing, Cooperatives and self-help housing.

It is an area that has developed significantly over the last few years as the need for local, affordable housing has grown, particularly in large urban areas. Recent research from The Smith Institute reports that the sector is currently developing up to 400 homes a year, with that output predicted to rise over the next three to five years. In the 2016 Budget, the government announced £60 million per year for community-led housing developments in rural and coastal communities. However many organisations continue to struggle to secure appropriate finance.

Catherine Harrington, Director of the National Community Land Trust Network said:

“The nation’s housing crisis is hurting communities in every part of the country, from London, the South East and rural areas, where people are struggling to get onto the housing ladder or are facing high rents, to parts of cities like Liverpool that struggle to retain their citizens.

There are now 225 Community Land Trusts (CLTs), having grown six-fold in six years, 700 homes have been built and there are now nearly 3000 homes in the pipeline. However, as a relatively new model of housing delivery, CLTs continue to face significant challenges that prevent the movement from making a more significant contribution to housing supply including access to sufficient capital from social investors.

This facility is an important step in ensuring that the community-led housing sector has access to sufficient development finance on appropriate terms. We look forward to Big Society Capital and other investors supporting the sector to achieve scale”.

FSE Group, Northstar Ventures and Social and Sustainable Capital (SASC) will be the first group of social investors that can access the Facility to invest in projects that need more than £1m of investment. Additional investment from social banks, local authorities, foundations and other grant-makers could potentially increase the amount available to community-led housing projects to £75 million. By providing social investors with additional capital, it’s hoped that a greater number of large-scale community housing projects, particularly in large urban areas, willget off the ground.

Rebecca McCartney, Investment Associate at Big Society Capital said

“Community-led housing has the potential to achieve significant social impact by supporting households most in need of affordable accommodation as well as bringing communities together to develop, design and deliver locally-led solutions.

These communities have a clear desire for change but require support and funding to deliver. We’re pleased to be working with a number of organisations who provide guidance and support to these organisations, as well as other interested funders, to help community-led housing projects realise their ambitions.”

Big Society Capital has made a number of investments to help address the growing need for affordable housing. Earlier this year, it invested £15m into Funding Affordable Homes with Salamanca Group, as well as £15m into the National Homelessness Property Fund in partnership with homelessness charity St Mungo’s Broadway and social investor Resonance.

For more information on the Community-led Housing Facility, visit www.bigsocietycapital.com/community-led-housing-facility.

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Green Tech Start-Ups: Are they the Future?

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Endless innovations are occurring in green companies, reinventing the industries they belong to. Gradually, they are beginning to amass more success and popularity. Consequently, these factors serve as a good indicator for green technology businesses, and their development must begin somewhere.

Green tech start-ups boast a wide array of opportunities for the economy and environment, while boosting recruitment openings with valuable services. While the technology industry is littered with high revenues and competition, the green tech start-ups are the clear sign of a cleaner future.

Fulfilling a Genuine Need

Many tech companies will market themselves as the ultimate tech giants to shift stock and make profit. As they all vie for attention through warped corporate rhetoric, there is only one ethical winner; the start-up green tech company.

Some argue that mainstream tech businesses have grown far too big, branching out into other industries and standing between the consumer and practically everything they do. However, green tech start-ups go beyond the shallow ambitions of a company, answering a call to sincerely help the customer and climate in any way they can. Of course, this is an attractive business model, putting customers at ease as they contribute to a humanitarian cause that is genuine through and through.

After all, empathy is a striking trait to have in business, and green tech start-ups maintain this composure by their very nature and purpose.

Creating Opportunities

Despite the pursuits for clean energy still needing more awareness, green tech is an area that is ripe for contribution and expansion. There’s no need to copy another company or be a business of cheap knockoffs; green tech start-ups can add a new voice to the economy by being fresh, fearless and entrepreneurial.

Technology is at its most useful when it breaks new ground, an awe that eco-friendly innovations have by default in their operations. Of course, green tech start-ups have the chance to build on this foundation and create harmony instead of climate crisis. Ultimately, the tech advancements are what revolutionise clean energy as more than an activist niche, putting theory into practice.

Despite the US gradually becoming more disengaged with green technology, others such as China and Canada recognise the potential in green technology for creating jobs and growth in their respective economies. The slack of others spurs them on, which creates a constant influx of prospects for the green tech sector. Put simply, their services are always required, able to thrive from country to country.

A Fundamental Foresight

Mainstream technology can seem repetitive and dull, tinkering with what has come before rather than turning tech on its head. Since 2011, technology has been accused of stagnation, something which the internet and petty app services seem to disguise in short reaching ideas of creativity.

However, green tech start-ups aren’t just winging it, and operate with a roadmap of climate change in the years ahead to strategize accordingly. In other words, they aren’t simply looking to make a quick profit by sticking to a trend, but have the long-term future in mind. Consequently, the green tech start-up will be there from the very start, building up from the foundational level to only grow as more and more people inevitably go green.

They can additionally forecast their finances too, with the ability to access online platforms despite the differing levels of experience, keeping them in the loop. Consequently, with an eye for the future, green tech startups are the ones who will eventually usher in the new era.

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Green Companies Find Innovative Ways to Generate Capital to Expand

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Green business is a booming opportunity for shrewd, environmentally conscious entrepreneurs. According to a white paper by the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, green businesses in the food service industry and other verticals are growing up to seven times faster than their conventional competitors.

“Green market segments in the United States are growing fast. Growth rates of “green” segments are outpacing conventional segments in every industry where we collected data – for example, over the decade ending in 2011, the U.S. organic food category grew at a rate of 238% compared to 33% growth for the overall food market, and most forecasts indicate that the shift to green will only accelerate across industries. Green business opportunities will be even more prolific over the next few years, because millennials are placing greater emphasis on environmentally friendly solutions.”

Unfortunately, many promising green companies are struggling to generate revenue. They need to be more creative to find funding opportunities in 2017.

Funding challenges green businesses face

After the financial crisis struck in 2008, banks and other traditional lending institutions became much more conservative about lending money. Many green businesses turned to grants provided by the Obama administration for funding. However, most of those grants have since been suspended under the Trump administration. Congress had difficulty resuming them, because most of the green businesses that were funded had a lower survival rate than the national average.

Without funding from either traditional banks or government grants, green businesses were forced to look for other financing options. Here are some options they have available.

Other lending institutions

While corporate banks are less likely to finance new businesses these days, many smaller financial institutions are more likely to assume the risk. Specialty lending institutions and credit unions with a strong social mission are often willing to invest in promising green businesses.

However, these lenders still require perspective borrowers to submit formal business plans and proposals on how they will use their funding. Too many of them have been burned by poorly managed green companies, so they must be cautious with lending to them.

Foreign lenders

Many other countries are more invested in green development than the United States. Companies with a presence in Norway or other European countries should consider seeking loans from lenders in those jurisdictions, such as Lånemegleren.

Green bonds

Green bonds are new financial instruments that have been developed specifically for financing green businesses. The Climate Bond Standard introduced a number of policies to ensure green bonds would be safe for investors and a reliable funding opportunity for green businesses around the world. By balancing the needs of both stakeholders, they have helped facilitate green financing.

The market for green bonds nearly quadrupled between 2013 and 2014. It rose to over $100 billion in 2015.

Green entrepreneur should find out if their business model is compliant with the climate Bond standard. They may be able to tap a growing source of funding.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is another very popular way for all types of businesses to generate capital. Green businesses tend to benefit more than most other organizations, because crowdfunding investors tend to be more socially conscious. They are more eager to invest in companies that align with their outlooks on social causes. Since consumers are becoming more concerned about climate change and environmental preservation, they are more willing to invest in green businesses.

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