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Social Investment - Coalfield regeneration funds

A friend was contacted by telephone not so long ago by an organisation offering funding for former coafield sites. The building he uses as an office is a former pit office.

They wanted to know id he'd got plans for renovation and how much it would cost.

"A new roof and improving insulation", he said "about £100,000 I'd estimate"

"Not interested" was the response, "We want projects of half a million and over"

It reminded me of the ongoing debacle of funding for social enterprise. More than a decade after making it governent policy we don't have an effecting means of getting small scale seed investment to grass roots organisations. it has to be done via social investment intermediarieas who are for profit businesses.  

Were there no solution it wouldn't be so exasperating but we know from experience in Tomsk Russia that a community investment bank can create business though unsecured lending.

Thete's a powerful impression of political resistance, a sense that empowerment might become a threat. 

One of the things we have need of in this area of the Forest of Dean, is a cycle track which will connect several villages to a local town. Noby rings up and offer money for that, unfortunately.    

In the past, I've sought loan funding for social enterprise, Every response was of the "not our focus" variety.

In the last instance there were EU funds made available through a Local Action Group to whom I introduced a proposal for a community biomass project, with a community benefit society approach which would deliver 50% of profit to fund further investment in social enterprise.

This was the approach we introduced to the UK in 2004, when the focus was on tackling poverty with enterprise that both delivers a living wage and invest in social objectives.    

” Fifty percent of annual surplus will remain in each local community where income is derived, by way of deposit into a local community development bank serving that location. In that locales are part of EU and therefore subject to well-developed rule of law, corruption issues should not present insurmountable barriers such as in Crimea.

Fifty percent of surplus will be retained by P-CED for growth and expansion. Along the way, all employees of P-CED are to be paid at minimum a wage sufficient to guarantee a decent standard of living in accordance with the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights."

"Each community will then have its own Community Benefit Society (Industrial and Provident Society for the benefit of the community), such as P-CED Southwest Regional CBS, P-CED Midlands Regional CBS, and so on. P-CED will create each CBS as a UK legal entity under provisions of UK law. As the number of cells in each region increases and each regional CBS consequently becomes more complex, P-CED will utilize a portion of its 50% share of surplus to fund small offices for each regional CBS."

As an election approaches, only the Green Party seem to be on the same wavelength with a living wage and putting people first, but experience teaches that often this doenst translate into support of any kind.

One of those who'd declined us support in 2004, were the funding arm of the cooperative movement, ICOF. SWRDA said they'd see if it aligned with their own plans. Around 2010 Cooperative Futures in Gloucester were willing to help with the Bencom startup, but we just didn't have anyone local who was interested enough to make up the 3 founder members.

1A decade on and we have Cooperatives Europe promoting the people-centered model seemingly unaware of its founders.  

Dirk J. Lehnhoff, President of Cooperatives Europe, said: “Cooperatives and Fair Trade are established development actors with long-term oriented business models. By putting people’s needs first, we have proven to be able to respond to sustainable, economic and social needs. We support the Commission initiative announced in the Agenda for Change to work with local private actors and we believe that member-owned businesses, which benefit local communities, should be key partners”.