Co-operative & Community Finance is celebrating a record year of achievement.
In the past 12 months the Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) has provided over £ 1.2million in loan finance to the co-operative and social enterprise sector, making 2006 its most successful year since it was founded in 1973.
The organisation has provided specialist finance to an increasing number of employee buyouts, where workers from across the UK have been able to collectively purchase businesses from existing owners to avoid closure and protect their jobs.
Spokesman Ian Taylor told the News: "Our primary purpose is to enable people to own and control democratically the businesses in which they work or which operate in their local community, so we are very pleased to have been able to provide loans to a growing number of employee buyouts throughout 2006, and look forward to supporting many more in 2007."
Other key achievements throughout the year include successfully meeting lending targets set out by the Government for CDFIs as part of its Community Interest Tax Relief scheme and the launch of the Village CORE Programme.?
The programme is a partnership between Co-operative & Community Finance, the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and ViRSA (Village Retail Services Association) to provide £ 2 million of start-up funding to new community-owned shops over the next three years.?
The initiative aims to dramatically increase the number of community-owned shops in the UK ? there are currently around 160 ? to over 300 by awarding grants to villages of at least 200 people that wish to set one up.?
Co-operative & Community Finance is already in the process of approving several loans as part of the scheme.