Pioneering tax relief social investment fund makes third investment in Bristol
City magazine “Bristol 24/7” is the latest Bristol-based social enterprise to receive investment from the Resonance Bristol Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) Fund. The Fund – the first of its kind – has invested £150,000 into the publication, a Community Interest Company, in order for it to be able to offer more training, work placements and internships in journalism, for young people from marginalized neighbourhoods.
Bristol 24/7 is a popular ‘free to the reader’ online (website, mobile app, digital) newsletter and monthly printed magazine, dedicated to celebrating Bristol, its people and their stories to help build stronger communities and communication between those communities. In addition to “What’s On” in the area, it covers social issues and current affairs that affect the people of Bristol.
Though the publication is a well-known, Bristol brand, what is less well-known about the organization is that it was set up as a Community Interest Company with a clear social mission to produce a compelling range of local content on a variety of formats to support and stimulate the City; and have a large part of that content, written and produced by young talent from marginalized neighbourhoods. These young people might otherwise not get the opportunity to gain work experience in journalism without a degree level education. Profits from the publication are ploughed back into the magazine to grow its social impact.
The founders of the CIC, Dougal Templeton and Mike Bennett, both media professionals, were conscious that Bristol is often referred to as a “divided city” with clear social, economic and cultural differences that mainstream media often portray in a negative way, further serving to exacerbate the challenges and inequalities that certain communities face. Most Bristol publications are aimed at a small number of Bristol wards, ignoring other communities, which have been under-represented and therefore underserved by the media. Bristol 24/7 uncovers positive stories of inspiring people across all the Bristol wards connecting them in a single publication where one community can learn more about what is happening not only in their own neighbourhood but that of others.
The investment from the Fund will help Bristol 24/7 set up local hubs in the various areas of Bristol allowing local people to contribute articles and photos that will be uploaded to the main site, whilst allowing them also to raise their own revenue from advertising. This creates a catalyst for career opportunities in media for those who are currently marginalized, whilst dissipating negative attitudes.
Dougal Templeton said of its investment from the Resonance Fund: “I heard about a new social impact fund being set up in Bristol and was delighted to find out that it was from Resonance, a social impact company which we feel shares our mission to “dismantle poverty” in our great city. This gives us the investment we need to take the social impact of our enterprise to the next level.”
Donna Thomas, Investment Manager from Resonance said: “Being a resident of Bristol, I knew of Bristol 24/7 but was delighted to discover that this very successful magazine also had a clear social mission behind it. Talking to the Bristol 24/7 team, it became clear that the investment they needed would make a big difference in the lives of young people who might like to work in journalism but would be unlikely to be considered in normal circumstances without a degree-level education or previous work experience. Resonance is engaging with many social enterprises in the city who are making real impact and need investment to do more – we want to speak to even more.”
One early success story has seen one of Bristol 24/7’s first work experience candidates Meena Alexander, who is from a BME background with no appropriate qualifications or media background, progress from a short stint of work experience, to a part time role with the magazine as editorial assistant and now a move to London where she is doing a journalism course at News Associates in Wimbledon. Meena has also landed a job at the Times on the production desk in the evenings.
Meena commented: “I really couldn’t think of a better place to start my journalistic career than Bristol24/7. I was thrown in at the deep end and treated like an important member of the team from day one – not a tea tray or photocopier in sight. I learned such a wide variety of skills that have been invaluable; from writing to editing, interviewing to photojournalism. I know I will be putting everything I learned about journalism at Bristol24/7 to good use for years to come.”
This is now the third investment made by the Resonance Bristol SITR Fund into a Bristol social enterprise in the last 3 months, The Fund uses Social Investment Tax Relief to enable social enterprises to access more affordable, more patient finance, from individuals that share in their social mission, whilst still offering investors a financial return that reflects the risk. For many enterprises, this is the missing link that can help them access the finance they need to scale their social impact. For many investors, the tax relief puts social investment on a level playing field with their other investment opportunities, encouraging them to commit more investment to the issues they care about.
The Fund has raised £1.8m of investment to date and will remain open for eligible investors throughout 2016 with the aim of raising a total of £5m this year, and will then grow further in response to both the need for investment from social enterprises in Bristol and investor demand.
Green Tech Start-Ups: Are they the Future?
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.
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.
3 Green Living Tips that Can Slash Your Tax Burden
Over the last couple of weeks, I have discussed the financial benefits of green living. There are a lot of ways that you can cut your personal expenses by living a more sustainable lifestyle. Some of my readers have specifically asked for tips on cutting taxes by going green.
Here are some tips that you should keep in mind. You may qualify for tax credits, a VAT reclaim or simply avoid paying sales taxes by minimizing purchases.
Going green cuts your taxes on gasoline
Gasoline taxes are rising sharply throughout the country. California recently passed a new bill that has raised the state gas tax to 38.2 cents a gallon. Other states are following suit. These taxes are broken up into two parts: an excise tax (a flat fee on every gallon of gasoline) and a sales tax, which varies by price. This means that gas taxes can rise sharply with gasoline prices.
People that drive green vehicles can minimize or even avoid these costs. Keep in mind that the more environmentally friendly your vehicle is, the more you will save on tax credits.
Take advantage of simple green home improvement credits
The federal government offers green tax credits equivalent to 20 to 30% of the cost of green home improvements. There are many ways to qualify for this credit. Most people talk about solar panels, wind turbines and other major changes.
However, you don’t need to renovate your home to be totally green. You can also qualify for these credits by making simple improvements to your home if you use green building materials or contractors. Money Crasher’s Brian Martucci explains that even the interest on loans for these improvements can be claimed as a deduction or credit.
“Federal, state, and local tax credits and other financial incentives partially offset the cost of a slew of green energy and home efficiency projects, helping more homeowners finance them out of their savings or afford the principal and interest payments on FHA 203k renovation loans. Here’s a look at the present lineup of federal tax credits and incentives, plus a representative slice of the hundreds of state and local credits and incentives available today.”
Make sure that you keep documentation of these credits. You do not need to attach them to your return. The IRS explains the rules here.
“Be sure you have the written certification from the manufacturer that their product qualifies for this tax credit. They usually post it on their website or include it with the product’s packaging. You can rely on it to claim the credit, but do not attach it to your return. Keep it with your tax records.”
If you live outside the United States, you may also be able to reclaim VAT for green purchases.
Take advantage of Energy Star products
Products that receive Energy Star certification consume at least 10% less energy than their alternatives. If you purchase any of these products, you may qualify for a tax credit of up to 30% cost of purchase. This credit is worth up to $1500, which is worth more than many VAT reclaim offers.
Need a new car? Look for green vehicles
The federal government also provides incentives for consumers to purchase screen vehicles. The green vehicle tax credit is worth up to $7500.
If you are interested in buying a new vehicle, you could cut your costs sharply. You may pay even less than you paid for a gas guzzler after the credit is factored in. Of course, you will save even more money on gas and fuel taxes over time as well.
Take Advantage of Great Green Living Tax Savings
There are plenty of ways that you can save money by going green. You can even make it easier on Tax Day. Take the time to understand the impact of different taxes and ways that they can be cut by following a more environmentally friendly approach.
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