Community groups can help finance new projects

Tiziana O'Hara and Jo Bird, from Co-operative Alternatives, who are encouraging Larne groups to consider community shares as a funding option. INLT -7-670-CON
Tiziana O'Hara and Jo Bird, from Co-operative Alternatives, who are encouraging Larne groups to consider community shares as a funding option. INLT -7-670-CON

Larne community groups and social enterprises are being encouraged to consider community shares as a means of financing new social projects.

Tiziana O’Hara, from Co-operative Alternatives, said: In a time of public sector cuts when start-up capital and grants are increasingly hard to come by, community shares are a viable option for enterprises supporting a community need.”

She said that help is available to any organisation wishing to learn more about launching a share offer.

“There are many organisations in Larne working for the betterment of society that could benefit by the community share option.

“We at Co-operative Alternatives offer free support and tailored training to any group wanting to explore this option.

“We can introduce you to organisations that have gone down this route, help with business plans and community engagement strategies and will help you write the share offer document – any practical advice and expert guidance that is required.”

Co-operative Alternatives was commissioned by the Building Change Trust in 2013 to run its “Community Shares, Ready!” pilot project to increase awareness of community shares in Northern Ireland.

Tiziana, who manages the Community Shares Ready! project, added: “Because members of the community are literally buying in to the business, they have a vested interest in the enterprise and are incredibly supportive of it. It gives many businesses a ready-made customer-base.”

Community shares are the sale of shares in enterprises that serve a community purpose.

“The shares are bought by members of the public who want to invest in a local enterprise that meets a community need.

A number of organisations in Northern Ireland has already begun to realise the potential of issuing community shares to raise capital to start or grow their businesses including Drumlin Wind Energy, which raised £3.9million with two share offers and Northern Ireland Community Energy (NICE) – a new solar power collective, plans to launch in the spring.

More information at www.coopalternatives.coop or email Tiziana O’Hara on tiziana@coopalternatives.coop or call her on 07858 317634.