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Making money do good

Communities up and down the UK are being empowered to invest in positive social and environmental change
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Pedal and Post has raised £500,000 of ethical investment

This article first appeared in our COP28 issue of My Green Pod Magazine, published 30 November 2023. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

Main image: Pedal and Post, and ultra-low emission courier and storage business, has raised £500,000 of ethical investment

While the world waits to see if COP28 will lead to an acceleration of action on climate change, regular people in the UK are already taking action at a more local level, using their money to make a real difference on the ground.

Ethex is an impact investing platform that enables people to invest directly in UK-based community organisations and businesses that are working to cut carbon emissions and create fairer and stronger communities.

This isn’t just for experienced investors; people can invest as little as £100. That may not seem like much, but over the last 10 years, thousands of people have together provided more than £115 million of much-needed funding for pioneering organisations through Ethex.

Community action

Communities have the power to create a measurable impact in the fight against climate change, and create a blueprint for others to follow.

Impact investing also plays a vital role in democratising finance and educating communities about how each and every person can play their part in creating a better future.

According to Lisa Ashford MBE, CEO of Ethex, one of the biggest draws for investors is the feeling of actually doing something.

People, Lisa says, ‘are feeling very helpless when it comes to climate action’; ‘but’, Lisa continues, ‘by investing in the work of inspiring grassroots organisations, they can directly help, which is crucial as we continue to drift further from meeting our net zero commitments.’

Powering change

Community energy is one of the investments that appears frequently on Ethex, and the platform has seen some incredible examples of communities producing clean energy that belongs to – and serves – the communities where they are based.

‘People love to see their money funding something tangible, especially if it is providing benefits within their own community’, Lisa says. ‘Investors in a community energy project enjoy a kind of transparency they might not find in other types of investment funds because they can see their money in action, in a particular organisation and project on the ground.’

One organisation that has regularly returned to the Ethex platform to raise finance is Solar for Schools, which funds solar panels on schools via a Community Benefit Society.

This is a great idea that enables schools to generate their own clean energy, save money on energy bills and cut carbon emissions.

The goal at Solar for Schools is to empower every individual to contribute towards decarbonisation by enabling them to invest in solar panels – but there’s more.

‘Funding solar on schools has an additional massive carbon reduction multiplier: education’, explains Robert Schrimpff, CEO of Solar for Schools. ‘Every one of the two billion young people on this planet can learn how we can decarbonise society faster; they only need to persuade three adults to make better choices to get everyone on the right path to net zero.’

To date, the Solar for Schools CBS has raised more than £6 million from investors to fund solar on over 110 schools, and has inspired at least 100,000 students.

Sustainable transport

In Oxford, ultra-low emission courier and storage business Pedal and Post wanted to grow its fleet of 25 cargo bikes, which provides a low-carbon alternative for ‘last mile’ parcel deliveries within the city centre, and expand its services into Reading. It successfully raised £500,000 on Ethex.

‘Thanks to our investors, we’re able to create around 100 new jobs, helping to boost the local economy and helping mitigate around 9g of CO2 emissions per second by 2028, while creating cleaner air and less congested roads’, said Pedal and Post founder Chris Benton.

Better farming

Investors have also helped to buy Kindling Farm – a community-owned farm that champions sustainable farming methods in order to cut carbon emissions, encourage biodiversity and produce healthier food.

‘By investing in our share offer, people not only funded the future success of the farm but became part-owners, and we all benefit from Kindling Farm being owned and run by the community’, said Kindling Farm’s Helen Woodcock.

‘For us, a green future is a world where sustainable development and responsible investing are at the forefront of financial decision-making’, Lisa explains. ‘Our investment opportunities support generating more clean, renewable energy, creating sustainable transport systems in our towns and cities, promoting better farming practices and ensuring all buildings are as energy efficient as they can be.’

Don’t invest unless you’re prepared to lose all the money you invest. This is a high-risk investment and you are unlikely to be protected if something goes wrong.

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