Brighton has been named as one of the UK hotspots for a new type of ‘positive investor’ helping to revolutionise funding of social and environmental businesses. ‘Positive Investing in the United Kingdom’ released by Ethex, the first online exchange for positive investments, shows Brightonians are at the forefront of a move towards investments which offer a financial return while also doing good, and Hanoverians are among the leaders in Brighton.
The report, which has been launched to coincide with National Ethical Investment Week from October 13-19th 2013, examined nearly 50,000 positive investments by postcode to reveal where investors live, what they invest in and why.
It shows the highest concentration of positive investors is in the East of the city and in Lewes, with 392 investments in sustainable and ethical businesses made across post code areas BN1, BN2 and BN7. These locations include Preston Park, St. Peter’s and North Laine, Hanover and Elm Grove, Lewes Priory and Lewes Castle.
The findings of the report have been welcomed by Jamie Hartzell, the founder and managing director of Ethex, (motto: Make Money Do Good), who previously co-founded the Ethical Property Company in 1999 with Andy King. In Brighton, the Ethical Property Company owns office space in a number of locations, including the Brighton Eco Centre, The Open Market, Community Base and Brighton Junction, which it rents at low cost to co-operatives and campaign groups.
Wards Total Preston Park 36 St Peter’s and North Laine 31 Hanover and Elm Grove 26 Lewes Priory 42 Lewes Castle 21 Total 156
“Brighton has always done things differently. With its comedy festival and the biggest fringe festival after Edinburgh, Gay Pride and Fat Boy Slim’s Big Beach Boutiques – not to mention the first Green MP in the UK – you can count on this city to inspire cultural change. Now it’s leading the way in the positive investment world too.” said Mr Hartzell.
Brighton’s history of positive investment is reflected in initiatives like Brighton Energy Co-op, which raised £240,000 for community solar projects in 2012, and HiSbe, which this summer received £30,000 crowdfunding to launch the city’s first ethical supermarket.
Among the other named national hot spots for pioneering positive investors are parts of Yorkshire and the East Midlands, Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds, Oxford, Devon and Cambridge.
Jamie Hartzell stepped down from The Ethical Property Company last year to set up Ethex as a not-for-profit online web portal that would provide a platform for positive investing that would create an ethical stockmarket. Ethex was launched in January 2013 and already has 30 investment products. In the first eight months, £760,000 was invested and 1,250 investors have signed up. The site alerts people to new share and bond issues, and also serves as a marketplace where people can buy and sell positive investments.
According to the report, a growing public interest in investments that ‘do good’ and offer a financial return has resulted in over one million investments, mainly between £100 to £500, have helped raise £1.6 billion.
Most of the investments and savings have been made in businesses, social enterprises, credit unions and community share offers that give people the chance to invest directly in issues that they care about. Positive investments tend to be in areas such fair trade, renewable energy, poverty alleviation, organic farming, community shops and pubs, sustainable forestry, green transport, organic food and farming and social property.
Just under 700 businesses currently form the UK market for positive investments, ranging from well-known brands such as Cafédirect, Good Energy and the Phone Co-op, to specific environmental and social projects.
At £1.6 billion, positive investment is one seventh the size of the £11 billion UK ethical investment market . But it differs from the majority of conventional ethical investments, which exclude a limited number of unacceptable activities, such as arms and tobacco, and instead select investments from other sectors. The range of exclusions is often narrow and results in investments in standard FTSE stocks and shares that can be unexpected, such as oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, high street banks and large food companies.
“Simple negative screening of investments is no longer enough, investors want it to be beyond question that their investment is having a positive impact,” said Jamie Hartzell.
“There are many exciting businesses with a positive social or environmental mission, but until now it has been very hard to find out what to buy, how to buy it and understand the risks you are taking.”
For further information and to download a copy of the report, go to www.ethex.org.uk