The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed … why don’t we change that together? 

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Well it’s been quite a year for Buzzbnk. We’ve seen many projects successfully funded; from financing an urban mushroom farm in Bath (which uses discarded coffee grounds to grow the mushrooms) to a social justice art exhibition. In total we have now funded 106 projects through the platform raising over £870,000, and none of this would have been possible without the commendable support you have shown us thus far, so thank you!

As Christmas approaches we’ve got plenty of brand new projects live on the site, looking for funds and ready to make a positive impact on society.

We’ve seen some real achievements this year: we launched the new look and feel for the Buzzbnk website with new functionality to capture not only cash pledges, but also time and in-kind (more on this in the next newsletter!). Plus I was personally delighted to be shortlisted for the Social Enterprise Women’s Champion award.

But there are two really big bits of news this week 

Firstly, we are delighted to be able to tell you that we have now merged with Trillion Fund. United, we are the UK’s largest social crowdfunding platform with 14,000 members of which 5,000 are active funders. Trillion Fund, backed by Vivienne Westwood, specialises in raising funds for renewable energy infrastructure. So now we’re looking forward to combined endeavours to help people and planet, democratise finance and maybe make you a profit along the way.

It’s our mission to open up triple bottom line investments to everyone, and major targets for the future include reaching 100,000 active donors, lenders and investors by 2017 – that is almost twenty times the number we have today!

We really believe this partnership is the perfect match, as our Co-founder Michael Norton OBE, commented:

“This deal creates a platform of complimentary strengths. We are stronger together with Trillion Fund and we look forward to continue to innovate and serve the sector.”

The Buzzbnk.org crowdfunding platform continues after the merger on its mission to help social enterprises and charities raise the funding and support they need. The doors are still very much open for business as usual!

Crowdfunding for crowdfunders

And now for the really exciting news. Following our successful merger, the new combined business, which operates under the company Trillion Fund Ltd, has launched its own equity crowdfund, beginning a major investment round for 2015 and beyond.

We are raising equity capital now to offer a broader range of projects to support, expand the team and to extend our state of the art platform to makes it even easier and rewarding to donate, lend and invest.

Staying true to our beliefs, we are offering anyone the chance to invest as little as £10* – we want as many of you as possible to be apart of our onward journey and movement to empower social enterprise and social investment. We want to be the widest owned crowdfunding platform practicing what we preach.

You can check out the pitch here

and watch a video all about our raise and what we’re trying to do here.

Do please note that this is an equity fundraise for the combined business. For this reason we are launching the raise through our partner platform Seedrs*, (they’re the experts with early stage equity crowdfunding.)

It’s a very exciting time for the Buzzbnk and Trillion teams, as the merger has made us stronger as a business, and only increased our ambitions for socializing money.

With heartfelt thanks for embarking on this exciting journey with us.

Theresa Burton, co-founder Buzzbnk, deputy CEO Trillion and Julia Groves, CEO Trillion

*Important – we’d like you to read this please:

This is an equity fundraise for our own business. For this reason we are hosting the raise with Seedrs, a specialist equity crowdfunding platform that is targeted at investors who are sufficiently sophisticated to make their own decisions and understand the risks. These include loss of capital, lack of dividends, illiquidity and dilution

 In bringing this offer to your attention, neither Buzzbnk or Trillion are soliciting or making a recommendation as to the suitability or appropriateness of this offer. Please read the full details on Seedrs, including the risk warnings, carefully and/or seek independent financial advice before investing.

 Any financial promotion contained herein has been approved by Trillion Fund Ltd; an appointed representative of Abundance NRG Ltd; a firm authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

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Social Investing – from Hype to Impact?

Originally posted on Karl H Richter:

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Impact investment is blossoming. What started as a fad for idealists is gradually becoming a mainstream concept often discussed by fund management hotshots and company executives. The concept itself is certainly appealing. Investors are realising that they have the possibility to help solve some of the world’s most pressing social problems and make a profit at the same time.

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, the old debate of whether financial markets can become a force for social good has been rekindled. For all of the buzz around it… read more >

Much is happening in the UK and in other countries. This article focuses on the European context where the EU has set as a priority social entrepreneurship and social investment. This is building of a long tradition associated with the social economy. Steps are being taken to ease cross border social investment. Originally published by Philanthropy Impact Magazine:…

View original 22 more words

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Trillion Fund and Buzzbnk announce merger to create UK’s biggest social crowdfunding platform

For immediate release: Monday July 21

Theresa Burton (CEO Buzzbnk) and Julia Groves (CEO Trillion Fund)

Theresa Burton (CEO Buzzbnk) and Julia Groves (CEO Trillion Fund)

Buzzbnk, the UK’s first crowdfunding platform for the social enterprise sector and Trillion Fund, Vivienne Westwood’s renewable energy crowdfunding platform, have today announced a merger of the two businesses.

With 14,000 users, the combined entity will become the biggest social crowdfunding platform in the UK, enabling social and sustainable projects to access potential funding of up to £500 million and targeting half a million crowdfunders by the end of 2017.

The expanded business will be led by Julia Groves, chief executive of Trillion Fund. Theresa Burton, chief executive and co-founder of Buzzbnk, will become chief information officer and deputy chief executive of the new entity.

The social funding platform will enable projects to raise equity and debt finance from the crowd and open-up access to alternative investments for people that want to make a profit and a difference.

Significant shareholders in the merged entity will include Vivienne Westwood, The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Tudor Trust.

Julia Groves said: “By joining forces, Trillion Fund and Buzzbnk will create a crowdfunding resource of real scale. Social investing is just people deciding where they want to put their money so that they can make a good return, but not at the expense of other people or the planet. We will create investment opportunities that previously would have been the preserve of the rich, starting with this country’s clean energy infrastructure.”

Theresa Burton said: “This deal creates a platform of complementary strengths. Together, we can provide early stage capital to start-up social enterprises. We can support those worthwhile projects that may be struggling for lack of capital. Organisations that can build a crowd of supporters and advocate around them will be stronger, more resilient and more successful.”

Buzzbnk is a crowdfunding website that enables social entrepreneurs and social ventures to raise funds and build a crowd of supporters. The idea of Buzzbnk first came from Michael Norton OBE, co-founder and chairman of Buzzbnk, who had a vision about empowering “positive people to back bright ideas” by tapping into their social networks.

Since it was launched in 2011, Buzzbnk has raised funding for more than 100 projects, with a success rate of 63 per cent, well above average for the sector.

Trillion Fund is a renewable energy crowdfunding platform founded in 2011 by Dr. Michael Stein and Phillip Riches to open up opportunities for everyone to profit from clean energy and to help finance the $1 trillion a year that the UN says is necessary to stop the world warming by more than 2 degrees.

Trillion Fund launched its initial marketing platform in June 2012 and now issues peer-to-peer loans, as well as listing community energy share raises, funds, debentures and bonds, with an average raise size of £500,000.

Trillion Fund has so far helped more than 20 projects meet their funding targets, including Brighton Energy Community and Deepbridge Capital LLP, and is currently crowdfunding a peer-to-peer loan for E2Energy, a joint venture between Endurance Wind Power and Earthmill.

Buzzbnk owns and operates the technology behind Trillion Fund’s new platform, which launched in June 2014.

Theresa Burton is a former senior director at Swiss Re, the global reinsurer and Julia Groves was the co-founder of britishairways.com.

Contact:

Rebecca O’Connor, Trillion Fund, 07967 613925, rebecca.oconnor@trillionfund.com

www.trillionfund.com

www.buzzbnk.org

Photos can be found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/125549293@N08/

Notes to editors

- The merger is the first consolidation in the investment-based crowdfunding sector.

- The merger is pending full shareholder approval and the combined entity is due to commence operation on September 1.

- Trillion Fund is a renewable energy crowdfunding platform authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, listing peer-to-peer loans, community share raises, bonds and funds.

 - Dame Vivienne Westwood is Trillion Fund’s biggest shareholder.

- Buzzbnk is a crowdfunding platform authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority for loan-based crowdfunding.

 - Buzzbnk brings social ventures looking for start-up or growth capital together with like-minded people keen to participate in a new way of funding social change.

- Buzzbnk is a social enterprise more than 50 per cent owned by leading charities and foundations in the UK and has a social purpose mandate to support the social enterprise, social investment and charitable sector. Charity shareholders in Buzzbnk are The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, The Tudor Trust, The Wates Foundation, The Centre for Innovation in Voluntary Action and The Lloyd Fund.

 - Both Trillion Fund and Buzzbnk are founding members of the UK Crowdfunding Association with Julia Groves as elected chair and Theresa Burton one of the elected directors.

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Reap what you Sow: Crowdfunding tips from School Farm CSA

School Farm Community Supported Agriculture, the UK’s only no-dig, certified-organic community farm, have successfully raised £13,675 as part of The A Team Challenge. Reaching their target of £6,800 through crowdfunding, meant that they secured matchfunding from The A Team Foundation. These funds will enable them to offer on-farm training, education and apprenticeships, as well as opportunities for new entrants into farming.

For buzzbnk 2School Farm’s co-director, Laura Creen, washed the mud off her hands to give us an account of their crowdfunding challenge;

1. Did being part of The A Team Challenge spur you on to reach your goal?

Raising £13,600 through donations is a daunting challenge, but having a supportive Foundation take on half of that through match funding inspired us to believe it was achievable.  It made our campaign exciting to run as every pound donated by the public was matched by the foundation; people could really see their money going further.

2. Do you feel that your support network has grown as a result of crowdfunding?

Our project has only been running for 1 year, and through the campaign we’ve launched ourselves into the public sphere.  We doubled our facebook likes and we started a twitter account.  Growing food can be a very hard job that you can do in complete isolation, but this campaign has really let us tell everyone about what we do and why it’s important.  We’ve found our local community is supportive of what we do, and we feel boosted by that support.

3. What would be your top tips to others embarking on a crowdfunding campaign?

Keep it short and simple, and have a plan.  Keeping your campaign short increases the sense of urgency and excitement needed to generate donations.  Finding people to donate before you even launch your campaign is a great way to launch with a bang.

stoneledge farms CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Local Farming Week Twenty-Four4. How can people support School Farm CSA from here on in?

People can donate their time on our volunteer days by getting their hands dirty – our no-dig principles are a labour intensive way to grow food and help is always appreciated.  They can join us on our Beginners Gardening Course, or keep in touch via facebook or twitter.  If there are people with skills and experience who could donate their time on a one off basis or on a longer term commitment, we’re still looking for help to grow our social enterprise and farm into the future.

5. Would you recommend crowdfunding to others?

I would recommend crowdfunding as a way of raising funds if you need them in a time sensitive way.  It was important to us that we raised funds before the start of the growing season – otherwise we couldn’t continue.  I would also recommend it as a way to communicate your vision to the public and gauge whether people will support it.

6. What was the best part of your experience crowdfunding with Buzzbnk? 

The team behind Buzzbnk were always ready to help, and were prompt in replying to any queries.  I couldn’t recommend Theresa Burton and her team highly enough.

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Introducing the A Team Challengers!

8480556403_a7dfbee33d_nAt the end of October 2013, applications opened for The A Team Challenge. Food and agricultural projects who adopt an ‘enlightened’ agroecology approach to their work, were invited to apply to take part in the innovative match funding scheme. Those successful would launch a crowdfunding campaign to part-fund their venture and, provided they could raise an agreed amount through this channel, would receive match funding from The A Team Foundation.

In the short space of 4 weeks, the Challenge received nearly 40 applications, the quality of which were very high. Through a difficult and rigorous selection process, we are now delighted to announce the final selection of projects to participate in the Challenge.

These six fantastic projects were selected for their agroecological credentials, the thoroughness and feasibility of their project plan and their potential for impact both more immediately and in the future.

The A Team Challengers

Towering-dill-550x733Vertical Veg - Vertical Veg inspires and supports food growing in small urban spaces. It helps people without gardens to grow food organically, affordably and sustainably in containers.

Fungi Fruits – The Fungi Fruits project is an urban mushroom farm, using coffee grounds to grow the mushrooms in Bath. Fungi Fruits want to raise awareness of the need to reduce our carbon footprint and provide the opportunity for people to do so by providing low-carbon food.

Groby Road Market Garden – This project will establish a market garden on a derelict piece of land in Leicester. The business will produce fresh fruit and vegetables and sell them locally. Production of the crops will aim to minimise all inputs, practise crop rotation, provide habitats to encourage biodiversity and will not use artificial fertilisers or pesticides.

IMG_2730_high resSarpo Potatoes, The Sárvári Research Trust – The Sárvári Research Trust breed Sárpo potatoes, resistant to late-blight disease. The Trust are looking to set up and run a limited company, Sarpo Potatoes Ltd, which will allow them to multiply, market and sell their seed.

Whippletree Farm – Whippletree Farm want to start a club for city dwellers to develop a connection with the countryside by providing the opportunity to stay and help on the farm. By encouraging city folk to directly support farming, the sustainability of small-scale agriculture becomes more feasible.

School FarmSchool Farm CSA – School Farm CSA is the UK’s only no-dig, certified-organic, community farm. Their aim is to grow food in a way that strengthens the local environment while promoting well-being, offering volunteer and training opportunities, and enriching the community.

The next stage

The selected projects will now work closely with us to put together their crowdfunding campaigns and launch them by the end of March. You can keep an eye on the progress of these wonderful initiatives and support them here.

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A New Year’s Resolution Worth Keeping…

happy_new_year_colorLove them or loathe them, make them or not, it is difficult to argue with the intention of reflection and self-betterment that most New Year’s Resolutions embody.

Whilst doing more exercise, reading more books and taking up new hobbies are all worthwhile pursuits, more often than not, they fall by the wayside and our usual patterns of behaviour kick in. Our resolutions usually focus upon the individual. Maybe this is the reason for their infamous unsustainability. If we knew that our promises would have an impact on others, would we be more inclined to stick to them?

With that in mind, why don’t we make 2014 the year of the Buy Social Revolution Resolution? (Catchy, isn’t it!) Buying Social is a practical, tangible and realistic objective which can have a direct and positive impact on individuals and wider society. In the wise words of Peter Holbrook, Chief Executive of Social Enterprise UK;

join revolution “When you spend with a social enterprise, your money goes towards supporting a social enterprise’s mission, helping to tackle some of society’s most pressing problems…The power to repair and change the economy is in everyone’s hands.”

And if that isn’t convincing enough on its own, John Bird, founder of the Big Issue says;

“Buying from social enterprise…brings work, opportunity and begins to heal the divide between rich and poor. It challenges social injustice.”

buy socialTo be inspired further, watch the Buy Social campaign animation launched in November by Social Enterprise UK and find out why others buy from social enterprises in this article by the Guardian’s Social Enterprise Network.

Already convinced? Here’s a list of just some of the UK’s fantastic social enterprises to get you started. Unleash your purchasing power and make your New Year’s Resolution to Buy Social!! To find certified Social Enterprises to buy from in your area, visit the Social Enterprise Mark directory.

Our Favourites: (many of whom have previously hosted campaigns with us on Buzzbnk. We are very proud of their success and have noted them with a *)

*Pants to Poverty

*HiSbe

*The New Leaf Co-op

*Visionary Soap

Divine Chocolate

From Babies With Love

The Big Issue

Belu Water

The Eden Project

Chocolate Memories

Rubies in the Rubble

Bikeworks

*Who made your pants?

and of course, Buzzbnk itself is a recognised Social Enterprise.

Happy Shopping!

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Andrew Croft from CAN responds to the Autumn Statement on behalf of the Social Economy Alliance

Chancellor must use alternatives to the ‘pre-crash economic toolkit’ to bring genuine growth to the UK, says Social Economy Alliance

·         Socially driven businesses – co-operatives and social enterprises – outstripped ordinary businesses for growth during financial crisis

·         ‘Businesses that plough profit into people and society are best defence against phony growth in the economy’

·         Autumn Statement is a ‘make or break moment’ to turn away from debt-fuelled growth model

·         Alliance calling for bottom-up economic growth using alternative social economy policies that support community energy production, crowd-funding, co-operation and more democratic businesses

The Government must create economic policies that support Britain’s emerging social economy if it is to address the rising cost of living and growing inequality in the UK, according to The Social Economy Alliance. The campaigning group, made up of 22 respected co-operative and social enterprises, universities, think tanks, charities and housing associations, says that businesses that plough profit into people and society are the best defence against long term, phony growth in the economy.

The Alliance welcomed the Chancellor’s comments on mutually-owned business models. But the group said that the Chancellor must use alternatives to the ‘pre-crash economic toolkit’ to bring genuine growth to the UK and avoid setting the economy on the road to further trouble. The Alliance warned that growth figures released in today’s Autumn Statement represent a ‘make or break moment’, where the Government must resist the temptation to return to a debt-fuelled growth model that doesn’t improve standards of living for all.

During the financial crisis, co-operative and social enterprises have been resilient and have outstripped ordinary business for growth and innovation. Alternative banks have shown better returns. The Alliance said that the Government should now show its full support to the UK’s emerging socially-driven economy.

The Alliance is calling for bottom-up economic growth using alternative social economy policies that support, for example, community energy production, credit unions, crowd-funding and alternative banks, social enterprise housing groups and other social ownership models, and has commented on  a number of areas covered by the Chancellor’s statement:

Housing – the sell off

The public sector does need to free up land for more housing,  but one-off cash payments from the highest bidder must be avoided. The Alliance believes that the Public Services (Social Value) Act should be extended to cover management and disposal of assets to ensure that taxpayer-owned land benefits local communities long into the future.

Public services – the A&E crisis

Support for Accident and Emergency rooms is necessary, but the government can reduce the need for bailouts by investing in preventative health care strategies implemented within communities.

Business rate freeze

Freezing business rates is to be welcomed, but more support should be concentrated on SMEs, social enterprises and cooperatives, that are regenerating high streets and local areas and delivering long-term social and economic value.

Andrew Croft, CEO CAN and member of the Alliance, said:

“A thriving economy is our main weapon in the fight to improve living standards and conditions for people in Britain. But economic growth does not automatically equal a more prosperous society – smart economic policies that are based on the inextricable relationship between people, communities and the economy are essential.”

“We’re calling for support for the advanced solutions emerging from the social economy – social enterprises, cooperatives and other socially-owned businesses are improving social as well as economic conditions, by putting power in the hands of the people.

“Attempts to fix broken markets with outdated economic models will be extremely harmful. We need alternatives that work within markets to shift the very plates they’re built upon, to create economic and social advances that put people and communities first.  This is basic stuff – but our leaders are yet to fully grasp and champion the social economy solutions that already exist in the UK”.

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