Social Saturday – 5 social investment opportunities

Written by Lisa Stanley Mann on 14th October 2016

Not ONLY is this Saturday the second of the X-Factor’s live shows and Motown week, AND week four of Strictly, it’s also Social Saturday!

Social Saturday is an annual day that’s all about social enterprise – businesses with a social mission that reinvest their profits for good. The campaign wants to boost the numbers of people buying from Britain’s more than 70,000 social enterprises.

Well-known social enterprises on the high street include The Big Issue, Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, Better leisure centres, Divine Chocolate and Belu Water. These businesses prove that businesses can do good in the world while being profitable. All reinvest their profits and positively impact on local communities and the environment.

As well as buying from social businesses, people can also invest in social enterprises.

Could this be up your street?

There are a range of different options for people wanting to invest their money to make a positive difference, from putting money in a social bank such as Charity Bank or Triodos, to a social investment-driven stocks and shares ISA, with funds such as the Colombia Threadneedle Social Bond Fund. You can invest in socially responsible businesses both at home and overseas and in some cases, this can be a direct investment in the business, rather than via a fund.

The UK is regarded as a world leader in social investment, with the world’s first social investment bank and first social investment tax relief.

So how can you get a piece of this pie? We’ve drawn up a list of 5 hot social investment opportunities:

  1. Crowdfund community and social enterprises on Crowdfunder – from supporting hawksbill turtle research and rehabilitation in the Seychelles, to funding the redevelopment of a community leadership centre on the Isle of Skye to help its young people fulfil their potential, to buying a village pub in Norfolk, there’s a huge number and variety of investment opportunities on crowdfunder.co.uk.
  2. Invest in changing local communities through Spacehive, which helps raise funds for people trying to improve their community spaces. It brings together different funds from different sources, so anyone with an idea for transforming their area can gather support from neighbours, businesses, brands and councils in one place. They say they ‘want to…enable citizens to become catalysts for change.’ Successes include public wi-fi in Mansfield, an urban farm in London, a motorway flyover re-imagined as a “sky park” in Liverpool, and a giant waterslide on Bristol’s high street. Current opportunities include restoring a bandstand in Beckenham on which David Bowie famously performed, and creating a new co-operative and democratically run space for independent, cultural, DIY, creative and political activities in Manchester.
  3. Community energy – BHESCo in Brighton is looking to raise £150,000 through a share offer on Ethex to install a range of energy efficiency and energy generation projects on four buildings in and around Brighton and Hove. The minimum investment is £250.
  4. Bricks and mortar for social enterprise – The Ethical Property Company develops and runs shared office centres for non-profit organisations and social enterprises. You can buy shares in the company on Ethex . The minimum investment is £250.
  5. Do your bit to help find solutions to the housing crisis, in India and closer to home. Chototel plans to develop a range of super-budget sustainable hotels (£3-£5 per room per night) in affordable housing-deprived locations across the globe. It is looking to raise £3m via the Social Stock Exchange, the UK exchange for impact investors looking to invest in social impact businesses. Read our recent blog to find out more.

And if you’re still looking for more info or tips, Triodos, one of the UK’s leading social investors, has produced a handy guide covering everything you need to know if you are thinking of investing for social impact, whether that be direct investment (via crowdfunding perhaps) in social enterprises, investments in Social Impact Bonds, or broader impact-driven investment funds, shares or other vehicles. Download the guide here.

Risk warning: for many social investments such as community shares or social enterprise investments, your capital is at risk, and investments are not protected by the FSCS – so you should not invest anything you are not prepared to lose.