Triodos Bank UK has provided finance for a range of community-owned organisations and co-operatives. Rob Keegan, small business lending team manager, explains how this ownership model is thriving and why Triodos supports community enterprises.

Whether it’s pubs, shops, farms or football clubs, the model of community ownership continues to go from strength-to-strength.

It’s a model that’s been around for hundreds of years, but has seen increased popularity since the Localism Act 2011 set out additional protection for Assets of Community Value (ACV) – buildings or other assets that promote the social wellbeing or interests of the local community. With last year’s launch of Keep It In The Community, the first national database of ACVs, it’s easier than ever for us to see a picture of the proactive community groups working across the country.

However, for these groups it’s a big transition moving from a newly hatched idea to actually buying and running a business, which is why organisations like Stir to Action are so important. The support that it provides, day-to-day and on courses such as ‘What If We Ran It Ourselves?’, is vital to give groups the confidence to go ahead and to keep the sector thriving.

Triodos Bank has a long history of using the money entrusted by its savers to lend to community-based organisations and projects. A key part of our ethos is that we provide finance solely to organisations that work for positive change, for both people and the planet. In the interests of transparency, we publish all of these loans on the Know Where Your Money Goes section of our website – it’s a great place to be inspired by some of the recent community-led initiatives that the bank has supported.

But why is supporting small organisations so important to us at Triodos Bank? Community ownership is essentially about democratising ownership and encouraging people to work together in ways that have a positive impact beyond maximising profit. Grassroots organisations may have a small financial impact in terms of GDP, but we recognise the impact that they can have on communities is huge – as the examples below show.

We hope that through the great work that Stir to Action does, many more groups will be encouraged to realise their dreams of community ownership.

Below are just some of the projects that Triodos Bank has supported in recent years.

The Swan Clewer CIC

Alongside investment and community fundraising, lending from Triodos has enabled the Windsor-based CIC to purchase an eighteenth-century pub. The aim is for The Swan to become a thriving community hub and social enterprise, providing meeting spaces and training opportunities for local young people with additional educational needs, alongside a traditional pub and workspace for start-up businesses with a like-minded community ethos.

Crediton Community Bookshop

Crediton Community Bookshop is independent and community-owned – a unique entity in Mid-Devon. The social enterprise exists not only as a place to buy books, but as an inspirational hub for all things literary. Through investing in local projects and working with partners from schools and libraries to famous authors, the bookshop acts as a strong and vibrant community resource.

Houghton & Wyton Community Shop

Houghton & Wyton Community Shop in Cambridgeshire aims to be a place where people come to buy great tasting food and catch up with village life. When the former owners retired, the community came together to purchase the shop. The members aim to run the shop in a sustainable way, generating a modest profit and donating some of that profit to community benefit causes.

To read more about the new wave of common ownership, visit Triodos Bank’s blog

Triodos Bank is sponsoring 10 fully funded places on Stir to Action’s What If We Ran It Ourselves? Community Ownership workshop in Bristol on 13 July 2019.

If you’ve got an idea or are involved in a community ownership initiative, apply to join us!


Teaser photo credit: Houghton & Wyton Community Shop