Resurgence magazine No. 244
We should be able to trace our investments like we can trace the provenance of food.
A NEW SCHEME, the first of its kind in Britain, has been launched in the West Country to help channel local money into community projects and to help ‘investment’ become a clean rather than a dirty word. The Wessex Reinvestment Society (WRS) is leading the initiative, which will not only provide small community enterprises with a simpler way of accessing funds, but will also give people in the South West the opportunity to invest in projects that are closer to home and hopefully more ethically sound.
The scheme is based around the concept of Slow Money, a term inspired by the Slow Food Movement. It anticipates that just as people now question the traceability of their food, so they are more concerned about where the money they invest is being spent. By investing Slow Money, as opposed to Fast Money which fits with the anonymous world of global finance. investors may have to commit their funds for longer, but they will know where their money is going and how it is being used, and will experience both a financial and a social return.
Under the new scheme, four local businesses will join forces with WRS to raise local money for future projects. There is the Ecos Fund, formed to enable investors to support sustainable and zero-carbon projects built by Ecos Homes. The company won a national award for its first development, Great Bow Yard, with investment from Ecos Fund, and plans to embark on tour more projects in the next two years. There is Local Food Links, which was set up to make good local food accessible and affordable to everyone and is re-introducing hot school meals to local primary schools in
Dorset that have had no kitchens for seventy-five years. Then there is High Street Organics, a community co-op which provides organic fresh foods and wholefoods from local producers and co-operatives. Finally, there is Wessex Community Assets, which supports affordable housing in rural communities by ‘setting up Community Land Trusts to support several housing schemes in Dorset, Devon and Somerset.
‘Our research backs up the theory of ‘ Slow Money’,’ says Tim Crabtree, Director bfWRS. ‘It shows that as much as investors want to gain financial return, so do they value seeing the local social benefits of their investment. I hope that people will view this new means of investment as a refreshing and more personal way to go about using their money and that it brings a sense of ownership to local projects.