First community shares market report showcases sector growth

14th Jul 2015

The ‘Inside the Market’ report, the first comprehensive analysis published by the Community Shares Unit (CSU), has found that the number of people investing in community share schemes has increased nearly 20-fold in the last five years.

In 2009 there were just over 3,000 members with this number rising to over 60,000 by 2014, an increase 20 times. The number of community share schemes has also rocketed, with nearly 250 offers taking place between 2009 and 2014.  Investment in this period has totalled over £60 million, again an impressive increase from a baseline of just 30 share schemes that raised close to £5m in investment in the previous five years.

While 2014 was a year of particular strong growth with over £20 million raised, the analysis highlighted the dominance of community energy, which accounted for half the offers last year. Other sectors such as community pubs and shops, regeneration and food and farming all saw a fall in activity, illustrating the challenges community enterprises continue to face across a number of sectors in raising the finance they need to start-up and grow.

The report itself brings together the CSU’s market data, alongside a survey of community shares investors undertaken with Manchester Business School as part of the wider Nesta Alternative Finance Study. Published late last year, this study captured views from people using a wide range of crowdfunding platforms.

Nearly 400 individuals who had invested in community shares via the CSU’s Microgenius platform participated in the survey, with the findings demonstrating the overwhelming motivation of investors to support the society’s social purpose. This was an important distinction of the community shares market when compared to equity crowdfunding for commercial ventures, in which financial return was paramount.

The report is part of the CSU’s wider aim to promote public confidence in community shares through providing accurate information about the market. The Community Shares Standard Mark was launched on the same day as the report’s release as a new national quality mark for share offers.