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UK has ‘most advanced’ social investment market, says government



The government has described the UK as the “most advanced social investment market”, in its 2014 progress update which looks at how the market is growing and being supported.

The update unveiled an investment of £60m to help high potential social ventures that struggle to access finance to become investment ready. It is hoped the fund will benefit enterprises by building their capacity to bid for social investment. The fund is based on a £10m pilot, which saw the ventures involved raise £39 for every £1 of government grant.

Minister for civil society Nick Hurd MP commented, “Engagement in social investment around the world has reached new levels, and the UK is leading the way in the global movement.

“Today’s announcement shows our commitment to building a market that is accessible to everyone and our report reflects on the huge progress we have made into turning our vision into reality.”

The achievements highlighted in the report include the introduction of the tax relief for social investment; the growth in the number of social enterprises, which now employ more than two million people; and the creation of Big Society Capital, the £600m social investment bank.

The government adds that the UK now has the world’s “most advanced social investment market”, growing at over 20% a year. Looking ahead to the next year, the focus will be on making it easier for people to become social investors and for organisations to access this type of funding.

There will also be a particular focus on tackling social problems, including homelessness, loneliness and disadvantaged young people, with social impact bonds (SIBs) providing a solution. SIBs give investors an opportunity to support organisations that are tackling social issues, with returns only paid out when agreed social outcomes are met.

In the UK there are currently 15 SIBs and the government announced two new SIBs to coincide with the update. The first is being commissioned in Worcestershire and aims to tackle loneliness among the over 50s, whilst the second will support children in care in the Birmingham area.

Responding to the update, Nick Temple, chair of the Social Investment Forum, said, “Guidance to help social sector organisations bridge the gap and access the new forms of finance becoming available to them is critical. The funding landscape has changed dramatically and social enterprises and charities are having to adapt – taking on social investment often requires different skills and mindset to more traditional grant finance.”

He added that whilst the social investment markets has made “significant strides” over the last few year, there are still challenges that need to be addressed. One of the challenges is responding to the needs of the organisations and ensuring they have ongoing support to be investment ready.

A separate report, also published this week, warned that the Financial Promotion Region, which regulates the marketing of small-scale investment, risks “stifling” growth in social investment. The study argued that the regulations create barriers for both investors and investees.

Photo: emospada via Freeimages 

Further reading:

Social investment risks being ‘stifled’ by regulation

Government sets out social enterprise support in Social Investment Roadmap

Growing ranks of high net-worths committed to social investment

Concerns raised over social investment tax relief

Brining social investment into the mainstream


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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