Community shares take a step forward with Standard Mark and new support tool

22nd Oct 2015

Ethical investors can be increasingly confident they are helping create a fairer world today (Friday 23rd October) after one of the UK’s leading social enterprises has received a good practice award for its finance activities.

Shared Interest is one of the largest organisations to raise investment capital through community shares, using this unique form of share capital to finance fair trade projects around the world.

Now Shared Interest’s investment offer has been awarded the Community Shares Standard Mark - a new voluntary scheme awarded to share offers that meet good practice standards.

Shared Interest has over 9,000 members who have invested over £33m in share capital to the society. The money is loaned and re-loaned to fair trade buyers and producers in the developing world to help improve their livelihoods.

Patricia Alexander, Managing Director at Shared Interest, said: “With share accounts varying from £100 to £100,000, we maintain that shareholders have an equal voice and vote regardless of account size.  Our investors are the lifeblood of Shared Interest and achieving this standard is recognition of their continued loyalty and commitment.  They will be delighted to know we are one of the first organisations to receive this accolade.” 

Community shares are one of the fastest growing forms of ‘good money’ in the UK. This year, 80 share offers are set to raise more than £40m through more than 50,000 individual investors. This type of investment is typically used to finance local shops, pubs, community buildings and renewable energy.

The government-backed Community Shares Unit (CSU) is supporting this growing market with the introduction of the Standard Mark.  Since its launch in July 2015, over ten share offers have received the Mark along which Shared Interest, many of which have listed on the CSU’s community shares platform Microgenius.

Now as part of Good Money Week, the CSU is helping emerging groups launch their share offer and meet good practice standards via a new online tool called 'Step-by-Step'. This tool helps groups successfully navigate the journey from initial idea to share offer launch – and generates a bespoke report that highlights key areas of action.

Simon Borkin, Programme Lead of the Community Shares Unit, said: “The Step-by-Step tool clearly guides groups through the process of financing an enterprise through community shares, allowing social ventures to raise good money with confidence.”

Organisations are already receiving vital support from key front-line providers and practitioners including Plunkett Foundation, Supporters Direct and Community Energy England. This tool has been designed to work alongside this support, for projects at all stages of development, from those new to the idea to those who are about to launch their share offer.”

The online tool can be accessed by visiting: http://stepbystep.communityshares.org.uk/