Community finance co-op seeks investors to support local enterprise

The pioneering share offer promises both a social and financial return

A West Midlands based co-op providing flexible finance for local enterprise is issuing a share offer to boost its ability to support the local economy.

ART Business Loans lends money to businesses and social enterprises that have been unable to obtain the finance elsewhere. The co-op supports the development of a diverse local economy – creating or protecting a wide variety of jobs for local people. Its loan fund is derived from investments made by companies and individuals, in addition to public and private sector support.

Dr Nick Venning, chair of ART, said: “ART pioneered a model of raising money through social investment to be lent locally 21 years ago and is about to launch another pioneering campaign to raise money from investors looking to use their money to achieve a social as well as a financial return. This will be via the Ethex social investment platform.”

Ed Mayo, secretary general of Co-operatives UK, said: “It’s tough to be a non-bank in the lending market, but ART started with an idea about what it wanted to achieve, the impact it wanted to make, and can tell some inspiring stories about the difference it has made to thousands of businesses.”

Dr Steve Walker, chief executive of ART, said: “We are on track to lend £2.5m this year, but have the capacity to lend up to £4m. When we launched in 1997, we were supported by true social investors – whose only return was knowing the impact that their investment had had on the local economy.

“In addition, we are now also able to offer a financial return in the form of Community Investment Tax Relief and will be looking to raise at least £500,000 from individual and company investors in this financial year.”

Investments can range from a minimum of £250 to a maximum of £100,000. Anyone interested in the investment opportunity can register to find out more via ART’s website.

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