A growing number of investors are getting behind community projects as they look for positive ventures to support during the pandemic.
Businesses including hydro schemes, housing projects, a community railway and a brewery are being assisted by money raised through community shares.
Community Shares Scotland, set up in 2014 with funding from the Scottish Government and the National Lottery, has experienced its busiest ever period over the last year. Eight share offers were launched during 2020 and another eight are in development.
A scheme running this month is supporting a hydro project in Sleat in Skye. By January 31 it had raised £188,750, with £115,550 coming from investors in the community.
Sleat Community Trust aims to start work in the spring on the scheme which is expected to generate 148,000 kWh of green energy each year. More than £158,000 of the income will go into other community schemes during the first 20 years.
Project officer Kenny Nicolson said: “We felt the community share model is the one that most involves everyone in the community. It’s an investment to be a part of a community initiative which we felt was the best way to bring our community together, and increase awareness of environmental issues.”
More than £100,000 was raised last month towards two hydro schemes on Raasay, while a share issue in December brought in more than £195,000 to help get Scotland’s first community-owned micro brewery on Eigg off the ground.
Morven Lyon, project manager, Community Shares Scotland, said: “It would be safe to say that the pandemic has had a big impact on community businesses and community share offers.
“There is a general sense that lockdown has highlighted the resilience and strength of community enterprise across Scotland, proving that community-centred connections are integral to wellbeing and the effective delivery of services and support.
“From an investor perspective, it seems as if people are looking for something positive to get behind and invest their time and money into. We are hearing that many of these investors do not want to go back to the status quo of upwards, endless, economic growth as a sole objective. Instead looking at environmental and community indicators of progress and wellbeing.”