Time was, the proverb went “Where there’s muck, there’s brass.”
But now Calderdale is part of a West Yorkshire hotspot for positive investors – people who invest their savings in businesses that create positive social and environmental results, as well as making money.
This information is included in Positive Investing in the United Kingdom, a report by Ethex, the UK’s first online exchange for positive investments.
Published to coincide with National Ethical Investment Week, the Ethex Report reveals that a new breed of ‘positive investor’ is revolutionising the funding of social and environmental businesses. Over 1 million investments, mainly between £100 and £500, have helped raise £1.6 billion, thanks to a growing public interest in investments that ‘do good’ and offer a financial return.
Supporting a new model of business in the Upper Calder Valley
Jamie Hartzell, founder and managing director of Ethex, said:
“People in the Calder Valley care deeply about what is done with their money and want to see it being used to do good.
“Like many people all over the UK, they are highly motivated to invest their savings where they will make money and bring positive social and environmental benefits. Society needs more positive investment. It’s a new model of business and we should be supporting the companies leading the way.
“People now expect more from their money. They have lost trust in the banks and money managers. They are looking for ways to invest directly, as evidenced by the rapid growth of crowd-funding, and positive investment allows people to invest direct into businesses they trust. For many people, this means being confident that their direct investment is making the world a better place, at the same time as generating a financial return.”
Stand-out wards for positive investors
Calder, Todmorden and Luddendenfoot wards stand out for the number of people who put their money where it will do good as well as offer a financial return.
Successful community share issues in the Upper Calder Valley include the Fox and Goose, in Hebden Bridge. Regulars have just raised £130,000 to buy their Local and create West Yorkshire’s first co-operative pub, investing anything from £100 to three-figure sums to hit the target.
Calder Ward Councillor and Hebden Royd Town Councillor Dave Young is a Director of the Fox and Goose Industrial and Provident Society set up to buy the pub. He said:
“The Calder Valley has a long history of community action and a rich industrial and rural heritage, so it’s no surprise to me that we’re a hotspot for positive investment.
“The area is well-known for its community spirit as we witnessed with the Fox and Goose community share offer, where people rallied round in their hundreds to help save a well-loved community asset.
Calder Valley people have always displayed a particularly strong sense of ethics and an independent attitude to finance – they work together to make sure that money is channelled in a way that does good for their community and further afield.”
This website, Changing More Than Lightbulbs (CMTL), is one of only four local news media groups in the UK to be supported by the Coops UK and Carnegie Trust UK through their Make Your Local News Work project. Dave Boyle, the Coops UK/Make Your Local News Work consultant working with CMTL, is encouraging us to think of forms of co-operative and community ownership that could make our hyperlocal news website economically viable and tie it in more closely to the local community’s interests and local news needs.
Incredible Edible Mytholm has an ambitious, £4.9m five year plan to set up as a community benefit society and development trust to create an eco- attraction on a key brownfield site in Hebden Bridge. The aim is to stimulate ideas and action about how to create a sustainable food system, move to a low carbon economy, and make the world a better place.
Jenny Shepherd of IEM said,
“The eco-attraction will connect local people and visitors with nature, food, and zero carbon, zero waste systems in exciting ways – offering loads of opportunities for enjoyable learning through outdoor and hands-on activities for everyone, and bringing out the mad inventor in people.”
Pennine Community Power, a community-owned and financed renewable energy group in the Calder Valley promotes the supply of renewable energy and used a community share issue to install a 10kW wind turbine in Blackshaw Head.
Hebden Bridge also enjoys several organic, locally-sourced vegetarian eateries and independent eco-friendly shops – including specialist grocers Valley Organics – which became a workers’ co-operative in June.
An alternative to the UK’s dysfunctional financial sector
The Positive Investment Report highlights the work of Ethex in creating an alternative to the UK’s dysfunctional financial sector, which led the country to the brink of economic disaster in 2008 and still requires massive reform.
The growth of positive investing – which goes far beyond so-called ethical investing – is a sign that this alternative has legs.
Ethical investment only goes as far as ruling out a limited number of unacceptable business activities such as arms, alcohol or tobacco, and then chooses the best performing investments in other sectors. This means investors who believe their money is being used ethically end up funding all kinds of business activities that may not always be that ethical, such as oil companies, big pharma and controversial companies like Nestle.
6 ways that Ethex will make positive investment easier
The Ethex Report points out that positive investing needs a better marketplace, so that potential investors can access better information about positive investment opportunities, and also recover their investments more easily and quickly.
Via its website/positive investment portal, Ethex is working to make it easier for positive investors and positive businesses to find each other:
- Ethex provides trusted sources of information that make positive investment easy to understand and do.
- Through true, fair and accurate information, it aims to give investors the ability to compare and evaluate social, financial and environmental returns; this is key to encouraging financially aware and active investors
- Ethex intends to bring positive investments within the reach of younger investors, by developing an investment fund that would invest in a wide range of positive investments. This would reduce risk and have lower minimum investment amounts.
- It has facilities for helping Independent Financial Advisers to understand the positive investment market and how to advise on it
- Ethex plans to develop a transparent secondary market for positive investments, so that investors can see what is available to buy and sell at any time, and at what prices. This will also allow investors to sell their shares when they want to, and will create a continuous investment opportunity for all positive investment products.
- The Financial Conduct Authority needs to develop a consistent regime for positive investment that recognises that positive investors are motivated by social, financial and environmental returns.
Positive businesses and positive investors can find out more about how Ethex can help them on the Ethex website.