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Big Society Capital backs community projects with £1m social investment



Social investment bank Big Society Capital is investing £1m in a fund designed to support community projects if there is a funding gap. It is hoped the investment will allow community groups to be more ambitious in the scale of share offer they launch.

Big Society Capital launched in 2011 and aims to grow the social investment market by investing in organisations that provide finance to the sector. It’s backed a wide variety of organisations with different missions, including supporting families adopting vulnerable children, providing affordable properties and community owned renewables.

The Community Shares Underwriting Fund (CSUF), which will be managed by Resonance, has also received a further £500,000 from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and £500,000 from the Barrow Cadbury Trust, Panahpur, Friends Provident Foundation and Golden Bottle Trust. This makes it the largest fund of its kind in the UK and if demand exceeds expectations in the next 12 months it will receive an additional £1m from Big Society Capital

The CSUF will provide an ‘underwriting’ facility that will top up finance if the target amount of share offer is not reached. The finance is provided as a flexible, interest-only loan, which can be repaid from future community share issues once the project is up and running.

It is hoped that this opportunity will encourage more people to participate in community projects because they will have more confidence that it will go ahead.

Nick O’Donohoe, chief executive of Big Society Capital, said, “Around the UK there is an increasing demand for local communities to work together to secure important community assets. Many of the larger scale projects may face hurdles and miss their financing targets, this fund covers 50% of that funding gap, allowing them to get off the drawing board faster.”

Community shares allow local people to become part-owners of their local assets. Investments in this way allow projects to meet the needs of individual communities. Since 2009, over 200 projects have raised finance through community shares, reaching a value of almost £40m.

Interest in community shares has been growing and the government’s energy strategy, released in January, aimed to encourage shared ownership of renewables projects.

Simon Borkin, programme lead at the Community Shares Unit, commented that the fund would support the “valuable form of finance” that offers locals people a real and meaningful ownership of valued assets.

He added, “Funds like this can play a valuable role by ensuring projects go ahead when timescales are tight, as well as giving supporters the confidence to participate in often pioneering social ventures.”

Photo: Images of Money via Flickr  

Further reading:

Momentum for social investment is building, says Big Society Capital chair

Big Society Capital: social investment benefited from £93m in 2013

Resonance: matching social enterprise with investment

Charity Bank eyes growth after £14.5m social investments from Big Society Capital

Resonance renewable energy fund raises £61m for UK wind


These 5 Green Office Mistakes Are Costing You Money




eco-friendly green offices
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Stokkete |

The sudden interest in green business is very encouraging. According to recent reports, 42% of all companies have rated sustainability as an important element of their business. Unfortunately, the focus on sustainability will only last if companies can find ways to use it to boost their ROI.

Many businesses get so caught up in being socially conscious that they hope the financial aspect of it takes care of itself. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go green and boost your net income at the same time.

Here are some important mistakes that you will want to avoid.

Only implementing sustainability on micro-scale

The biggest reason that brands are going green is to improve their optics with their customers. Too many businesses are making very minor changes, such as processing paperwork online and calling themselves green.

Customers have become wary of these types of companies. If you want to earn their business, you are going to need to go all the way. Bring in a green business consultant and make every feasible change to demonstrate that you are a green organization from top to bottom.

Not prioritizing investments by long-term ROI

It isn’t realistic to build an entirely green organization overnight. You will need to allocate your capital wisely.

Before investing in any green assets or services, you should always conduct a long-term cost benefit analysis. The initial investment for some green services may be over $20,000. If they don’t shave your cost by at least $3,000 a year, they probably aren’t worth the investment.

Determine which green investments will have the best pay off over the next 10 years. Make these investments before anything else. Then compare your options within each of those categories.

Implementing green changes without a plan

Effective, long-term planning is the key to business success. This principle needs to be applied to green organizations as well.

Before implementing a green strategy, you must answer the following questions:

  • How will I communicate my green business philosophy to my customers?
  • How will running a green business affect my revenue stream?
  • How will adopting green business strategies change my monthly expenses? Will they increase or decrease them?
  • How will my company finance green upgrades and other investments?

The biggest mistake that too many green businesses make is being overly optimistic with these forecasts. Take the time to collect objective data and make your decisions accordingly. This will help you run a much more profitable green business.

Not considering the benefits of green printing

Too many companies believe that going paperless is the only way to run a green organization. Unfortunately, going 100% paperless it’s not feasible for most companies.

Rather than aim for an unrealistic goal, consider the option of using a more environmentally friendly printer. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.

According to experts from Doranix, environmental printers have several benefits:

  • They can process paper that has been completely recycled.
  • They consume less energy than traditional printers.
  • They use ink that is more environmentally friendly.

You want to take a look at different green printers and compare them. You’ll find that some will meet your needs as a green business.

Poorly communicating your green business strategy to customers

Brand positioning doesn’t happen on its own. If you want to run a successful green business, you must communicate your message to customers as clearly as possible. You must also avoid the appearance that you are patronizing them.

The best approach is to be clear when you were first making the change. I’ll make an announcement about your company‘s commitment to sustainability.

You also want to reinforce this message overtime by using green labels on all of your products. You don’t have to be blatant with your messaging at this stage. Simply provide a small, daily reminder on your products and invoices.

Finally, it is a good idea to participate in green business seminars and other events. If your community has a local Green Chamber of Commerce, you should consider joining as well.

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Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis




Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens |

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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