Belfast worker co-op issues loanstock to fund growth plans

Loveworks, which offers skills and work experience, is looking for funds to expand its bakery facilities

Loveworks, a Belfast worker co-op which offers skills and job opportunities to people at risk of social exclusion, is running a loanstock offer to grow its business.

The social enterprise, based in the Macrory Centre in the New Lodge area, aims to build dignity and wellbeing for people with issues such as past convictions, addiction, poor mental health and housing issues.

Workers gain skills and experience in gardening, bike repair, and baking, while providing a useful service to the wider community – including a free, family-friendly community dinner on the third Sunday of every month.

It currently employs a core team of seven workers, backed by 10 regular volunteers.

Tiziana O’Hara, from Northern Ireland sector body Co-operative Alternatives which is supporting the offer, said: “A loanstock offer is practically an unsecured, fixed-term and fixed interest loan to Loveworks from individuals and organisations interested in supporting their work.

“This is an interesting tool often adopted by worker co-operatives to raise finance from their community of interest.”

She added: “Loveworks is growing and needs more equipment to run its operations. It made business sense to issue a loanstock offer. We have had great interest with many supporters, customers and friends pledging towards it.”

The loanstock offer was prepared under the Get Ready to Grow programme, funded by the Co-op Foundation – the charity run by the Co-op Group – and delivered by Co-operative Alternatives.

It is looking to raise £10,000 to increase the capacity and offering of its bakery, with the purchase of new coffee equipment, an additional oven, mixers, bannetons, and other kitchen equipment.

The minimum individual loanstock is £100; the maximum is £2,000. The loanstock offer runs until Saturday, March 7, and gives potential investors options regarding rate of interest and payback date.

The application download is available here. For more information contact Richard Higginson on [email protected]