Investments in small-scale social, environmental and community-based businesses are worth £1.6 billion to the UK economy, according to new figures by investment platform Ethex.
Known as positive investing – investment that generates financial returns but focuses on making a positive impact on the environment and society – the Ethex study says the figure comes from 1 million people helping fund eco-friendly and community projects.
The revenue was made possible mostly from small investments of between £100 and £500 in value, directed towards social enterprises, credit unions and community projects. The Ethex platform itself contributed £265m to the total, with the rest made through from credit unions (£762m), Triodos Bank funds entrusted in the UK (£529m) and community share issues (£36m).
Areas touched by the positive investment include fair trade, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and forestry, green transport and social property.
Jamie Hartzell, founder and managing director of Ethex, said, “All over the UK large numbers of people are highly motivated to invest their savings where they will make money and bring positive social and environmental benefits.
“Society needs more positive investment. It’s a new model of business and we should be supporting the companies leading the way.”
The Ethex study, released ahead of National Ethical Investment Week (October 13-19), also found there to be a number of positive investment hotspots across the UK. Places such as Bristol, north London, Brighton, Edinburgh, Sheffield and Leeds are among the frontrunners.
Hartzell added, “People now expect more from their money. They have lost trust in the banks and money managers. They are looking for ways to invest directly, as evidenced by the rapid growth of crowd-funding, and positive investment allows people to invest direct into businesses they trust.
“For many people, this means being confident that their direct investment is making the world a better place, at the same time as generating a financial return.”