Investors are being given the chance to own part of Scotland’s first community-owned brewery and help create future jobs.
A £125,000 share offer launches on Friday to fund the creation of the brewery powered by renewable energy on the island of Eigg.
Founder Stuart McCarthy, a former secondary school teacher, runs a 24-bed youth hostel on the island which was bought by the community in 1997.
In line with Eigg’s green credentials, all brewing will be done using solar power panels and it is hoped the new venture will increase tourism to the island and fund new jobs.
Mr McCarthy, who previously ran a small brewery for five years, said: “We want to create Scotland’s first environmentally sustainable, cooperative brewery.
“This feels like a great way to extend the community buyout which took place in 1997 and acted as a showcase for Eigg’s pioneering spirit and commitment to resilience and community ownership.
“We want to increase economic diversification while sharing our remote island experience and we see beer, the great social leveller, as the ideal way to begin. ‘Beer tourism’ is on the rise and it is predicted that the brewery will help increase visitor numbers, spending and the wider demographics.”
Community shares in the Isle of Eigg Brewery are priced at £1 with a minimum investment of £100 – or £50 for Eigg residents. The money will go towards the £230,000 needed to get the project from foundation to first brew.
Mr McCarthy added: “I want to create a sense of ownership for the people who run it every day and for the people who buy into it. This means creating opportunities for people in the form of full-time permanent jobs, not just seasonal roles.”
He pledged that by year three, 25% of the profits will be used to fund grants for local entrepreneurs who want to take forward their own business ideas.
“We’re looking to support island resilience by providing better opportunities for our younger generation and are committed to employing three islanders over the first three years. We want to help empower business ideas for a sustainable, cyclical, fairer economy and so we’ll create an annual grant to help local business start-ups.
“Our vision, however, is to help increase economic diversification and sustainable growth, so while our business specifically supports Eigg and benefits from Eigg’s provenance, as the product will be available throughout Scotland and the UK, it will not be contingent to Eigg traffic.”
The share issue is backed by Community Shares Scotland which was set up with Scottish Government and lottery funding. It has launched 35 community share offers in the past six years, totalling more than £12 million worth of investment.
Programme manager Morven Lyon said: “The community shares model is highly resilient, particularly in rural areas of Scotland which might struggle to maintain a private business.
“With the uncertainty and upheaval which the Covid-19 pandemic has wrought across the country, there appears to be an appetite for socially conscious projects and investment models which deliver a renewed sense of community and local identity. Community shares deliver this and so much more as well.”