An update on all things Community Shares from John Dawson, Head of Market Development for the Community Shares Unit at Co-operatives UK.
We’re boosting community businesses
More community businesses and projects in England will be able to explore, start and grow thanks to the Booster Fund, which has relaunched to support grassroots investment for the next three years after a new £1m investment from funders Power to Change.
The fund supports community businesses that are raising finance through community share offers. Community shares are a way for groups of people to come together and take ownership of local buildings and land, or to develop new projects and services that benefit their community. Individuals purchase shares – from as little as £10 – and get an active stake in the business.
Over the last five years, the Community Shares Booster Fund has invested £3.2 million in 56 community businesses, leveraging in a further £9.5 million of community investment. The relaunched fund is open to new and existing community businesses in England that want to explore a share offer or are developing one. They can apply for:
- A development grant for preparing a community share offer
- Match equity investment, with the Booster Fund matching every £1 invested by the community, up to £25,000 as an equity investment
One of the aims of the relaunched fund is to encourage more communities to consider raising money, and building an active membership, through community shares. We particularly want to hear from communities and business models who have been less visible using community shares in the past. If you think this could be you, we may be able to provide some additional advice and business support.
Community shares is an innovative form of finance uniquely available to co-operative and community benefit societies. The Fund can help you explore conversion or incorporation into this legal structure if needed.
The Booster Fund is delivered by the Community Shares Unit at Co-operatives UK, in partnership with Locality, Plunkett Foundation and Co-operative and Community Finance. It is funded by Power to Change and the Architectural Heritage Fund.
Community shares reach milestone £200m
As we relaunch the Booster Fund, we're proud to announce that we've hit a huge milestone for the community shares market. At the Community Shares Unit, we track all community shares offer data and have been watching the amount raised across the UK through community shares increase. We have now hit the amazing milestone of £200m raised by organisations using community shares, from over 126,000 investors.
We have also reached 225 community shares standard mark awards. The community shares standard mark is an external assessment of a share offer to provide assurance that it meets rigorous standards.
Who’s raising money through community shares?
We’ve written up a few new case studies, with more to come. Get in touch if you would like to be featured.
Leeds Action To Create Homes (LATCH) is one of our latest case studies. LATCH refurbishes derelict and run-down properties in Leeds to provide supported housing for people in housing need. Their community share offer raised £550,000 – which included match funding from the Community Shares Booster Fund – to enable them to provide more much-needed homes.
“That money will now transform lives,” said LATCH CEO James Hartley. “When the profile of investors came in, there’s a significant amount of people from Leeds. They’ve seen the juxtaposition of empty houses and homeless people. They know we’ll use the money to create positive change. There are 150 investors. They’re the people of LATCH now.”
In 2020, East Marsh United set up East Marsh Community to convert derelict properties into decent, affordable homes for local people. Resident Billy Dasein said: “Council housing stock was sold in the early noughties to private landlords. Not a lot of care has gone into maintaining these houses and people are living in poor conditions.”
Keen to hear more inspiring stories of how community shares are making a difference to people across the country? See our case studies here.
We’re recruiting new Booster Fund panel members
We are looking to recruit up to two new members to our Booster Fund investment process. This will either be as an assessor or a voting panel member.
We want to develop the diversity of thought and experience of our investment panel and processes. We also are interested in people who bring lived experience of the communities, services and businesses that we invest in.
Is this you? Find out how to apply – deadline is 17 June.
Community shares in the news
Societies using community shares to raise finance have had some good coverage in the press recently, including: