The movement that’s changing the world (and its financial systems)

Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

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Published: 25 March 2016

This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod

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From broadband and community energy to local football clubs and social housing, projects around the UK are receiving vital investment from people who are taking control of their money and what it supports. In fact, 1.8 million of us have made the decision to invest in ventures that help society, improve the environment and provide a healthy investor return.

‘How we use our money is one of the most powerful ways we can make a difference. This includes the products we buy, the companies we buy from, the businesses we invest in and the banks we trust with our money. Positive investing is about putting your money in businesses that are changing the world for the better.’

Sarah Flood, acting CEO of Ethex, the positive investment and savings platform

And this movement really is helping to change the world: Ethex research shows the total amount saved and invested positively across the UK was up 11% last year to £3.6 billion. A large chunk of that money has been ploughed into businesses in sectors ranging from renewable energy and green transport to fair trade, social housing, organic farming and micro-finance.

UK hotspots

According to a recent Ethex report, Bath, Lancashire and the Lakes, Oxford, the Bristol area, South Devon and Hereford and Ludlow were 2015’s top areas for positive investment. ‘It maybe a generalisation’, Sarah told us, ‘but the key positive investment hotspots tend to have a strong sense of community, a thriving cultural life and a large number of independent shops and businesses. Surprisingly, it’s not the wealthiest places that tend to invest the most.’

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Recent developments

Ethical investing has traditionally been about avoiding ‘sin stocks’ such as tobacco, arms and pornography – but the positive investment movement is about going beyond that: money is invested with a clear intention to make a positive impact.

A promising development has been the recent arrival of genuinely positive funds such as the WHEB Sustainability Fund and the Threadneedle Social Bond Fund. ‘These differ from negatively screened funds in that they set out to make investments that deliver genuine social and environmental benefits. They’re more transparent about what they invest in and are now measuring and reporting on the impact of their funds’, Sarah told us. ‘That’s positive investment!’

There’s also a wide range of positive savings accounts available from the likes of Ecology Building Society, Triodos Bank, Charity Bank and the Bristol Credit Union. But for most people bank accounts are the commonest – and perhaps only – point of contact with the financial system.

‘There’s a limited choice of truly positive current accounts available, and some might say there’s no real choice. This means that the young, or those without money to invest, have no positive financial options open to them – though this will improve if Triodos Bank starts to offer current accounts at the end of this year.’

Sarah Flood, acting CEO of Ethex, the positive investment and savings platform

Make money do good

Ethex would like to see everyone investing and saving directly in businesses that have a social or environmental mission at their heart. ‘It’s all about individuals staying in touch with their money and choosing to save in businesses that not only offer a financial return but also make money do good’, says Sarah.

Click here to find out more about Ethex and how to make your money do good.

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