Any investor who is any investor is social impact investing

Buzzbnk FB-high-resCalling all angels

Last Thursday saw the Social Impact Investment Summit at 11 Downing Street. One hundred angel investors were invited by Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, to encourage more socially motivated investing. Maude said: “Like many start-up businesses, fledgling social ventures often face persistent barriers which can prevent them succeeding, such as lack of finance, lack of expertise and limited access to markets. For many promising enterprises, the support from angel investors represents the ‘big break’ that can help them overcome these barriers and fulfil their potential.”

Bojo bigs up social housing

And it seems Maude isn’t the only government big-wig backing social investment. Earlier on this month Boris Johnson announced a new partnership with Big Issue Invest. The Mayor of London has selected the organisation for an investment of £10 million from the Housing Covenant Fund. The money will see empty properties renovated into affordable housing for Londoners, whilst the development will create job opportunities for adults with a history of homelessness and long-term unemployment.

SRI hits mainstream

The Government’s support for social impact investment comes as part of a wider trend outlined by Katherine Garrett-Cox, chief executive of Alliance Trust, last Tuesday. Garrett-Cox described 2014 as a “watershed year in the long and varied history of investing… a year when socially responsible investing considerations finally entered the mainstream.” And with the rise in the Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) cap it seems 2015 is only going to see continued growth in the trend as investors are presented with real financial incentives for ‘going social.’ Theresa Burton, Buzzbnk chief executive, said: “The increase in the cap for Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) eligibility to £5 million per organisation per year shows that social lending and investing is coming of age. The Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) and Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) are the bedrock of equity crowdfunding in the UK, which grew by 250 per cent this year. SITR now offers the same level of tax benefits for socially-motivated lenders and investors, and will boost the social investment sector significantly.” If you want to learn more about the Social Investment Tax Relief scheme, has published a fantastic, easily digestible infographic, which you can see here.

Will 2015 be the year your money goes good??

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Buzzbnk & Trillion Fund launch first white-label peer-to-peer lending initiative

LONDON 05.12.14

Trillion Fund ltd. launches UK’s first white-label peer-to-peer lending initiative

Move clears way for major brands to join crowdfunding revolution

Trillion, the UK’s biggest social crowdfunding platform, is to white label its peer-to-peer lending platform, enabling a range of brands to offer crowdfunding to customers or business users.

The white-label scheme is the first of its kind in the UK and follows the UK Government’s Autumn Statement on 3rd December, which unveiled new support for alternative finance.

Trillion is in talks with leading brands and City institutions about being the inaugural brand to use the white-label scheme.

Julia Groves, Trillion Chief Executive, said: “This white-label platform will enable businesses to offer crowdfunding and redefine their relationship with their customers. Brands that stand for trust and reliability have a unique opportunity to allow their customers, neighbours and employees to co-invest, sharing risks and returns and aligning interests in the next generation of brand relationship.

“We believe that those brands that use their scale and network to the advantage of their customers as well as their shareholders will gain additional brand loyalty. Lenders and investors are actively seeking alternatives to the banks but still want the reassurance of a brand and an existing relationship so they feel confident lending and investing their money.”

Crowdfunding is increasingly popular with investors and businesses, with £1.74bn raised through alternative finance in 2014 according to a recent Nesta report, [1] which also forecasts that £4.4bn could be raised in 2015 based on current growth rates.

The expansion into white-labelling follows research by Trillion with Penn Schoen Berland, the leading pollster, which showed that consumer brands could play a key alternative to bank-financing in establishing trust.

Theresa Burton, Co-Founder of Buzzbnk and now CTO Trillion Fund Ltd., said: “We built the platform with white-labelling capability from day one, so that businesses can launch crowd-funding in as little as six weeks. We can take care of the technology, operations, customer service and compliance, and provide an entirely branded customer journey that fully integrates with a corporates own customer communications plan. We have successfully completed our white-label development and services and our first pilot client,, has been live in South Africa since June 2013.”

Measures to support crowdfunding in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement included:

–       the ability to offset losses on peer-to-peer loans against any gains so tax is only paid on the net gain;

–       a consultation on opening up ISAs to crowd-funded bonds; and

–       an increase in the social investment tax relief to £5m, matching the EIS scheme and offering the same level of tax benefits for socially motivate businesses and investors.

Burton continued: “The increase in the cap for Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) eligibility to
£5 million per organisation shows that social lending and investing is coming of age.” Groves adds: “The Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) and Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) are the bedrock of equity crowdfunding in the UK, which grew by 250 per cent this year. SITR now offers the same level of tax benefits for socially-motivated lenders and investors, and will boost the social investment sector significantly.”

The consultation on peer-to-peer ISAs was announced last April and is expected to become policy in March 2015. Legislation will follow the general election making September 2015 the earliest likely date when everyday investors can start to use their ISA allowance for loan-based crowdfunding.

Trillion Fund ltd.

80 Haymarket

London, SW1Y 4TE

For more information, please contact:

Rowan Pereira at Trillion Fund,, 07818542523

Notes to Editors:

Trillion Fund is a crowdfunding platform authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, listing peer-to-peer loans, community share raises, bonds and funds for environmental and social projects. Trillion Fund recently merged with Buzzbnk to create the UK’s biggest social crowdfunding platform.

Julia Groves is founding Chair of the UK Crowdfunding Association, sits on the DECC community energy finance working group and is a member of HMT’s consulting group on peer-to-peer ISAs. In June, Julia won Business Green Entrepreneur of the year, and Trillion Fund was named Funder of the year by Community Energy England.

Prior to merging with Trillion Fund, Theresa Burton was CEO and Co-founder of Buzzbnk, the UK’s first crowdfunding platform specifically for lending or donating to social enterprises and charities. She is also a Director of the UKCFA, and sits on the Social Economy Alliance Finance working group. Theresa was also recently shortlisted for the 2014 Social Enterprise Women’s Champion Award.

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


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 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:


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


Rebecca O’Connor, Trillion Fund, 07967 613925,

Photos can be found at:

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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