“I trade with you, you trade with me; we build a community of trust and encourage others to join in,” explains Erika Rushton MBE of Kindred, a community owned business collective that invests in companies delivering social value across the Liverpool City Region.
Kindred currently has over 800 members who can secure loans to grow their social impact with the very favourable term of 0% interest to expand their businesses. “The fund is collectively owned by the membership, and around three quarters of the loans are returned,” says Erika, the group’s Strategy & Programme Director, who helped set up the community interest company nearly three years ago.
“But loans don’t have to be paid back only in money; a portion of the investment can be repaid through social return, in terms of the good that you create for the community.”
To date, Kindred has allocated £2 million to 44 businesses, and helped to more than double their collective turnover from around £1.5 million to more than £3 million. Staff headcount across the firms loaned money has also doubled.
Companies supported by the initiative must have a social enterprising or environmentally sustainable focus – and many are run by people from groups under-invested in by both commercial and social investors. Around 150 socially trading firms are already listed on a directory on the Kindred website.
Now the social investment model created for the Liverpool City Region is attracting interest from elsewhere in the UK with the support of Connected Places Catapult, which has worked with Kindred to create a Kindred Spirits toolkit for other urban areas to follow, add to and develop their own local, social economy, which is explained here.