How technology is powering alternative finance and hyperlocal activity: the case of community shares and Microgenius
Simon Borkin will share his experiences in the emerging crowdfunding and P2P financing market by discuss the development of Microgenius, a platform that enables trading of "community shares". Microgenius makes it easier and simple for supporters to buy shares in community-based projects and for enterprises themselves to manage their share offers.
Simon Borkin's bio
Simon Borkin, programme leader of the Community Shares Unit and director of Microgenius, will discuss this emerging market and provide an insight into the fantastic data which Microgenius is generating on the behaviours and motivations of investors investing in community enterprise via the platform. He will also discuss the development of the platform in supporting online governance and participation of community enterprise, offering a more engaged way for social enterprise to do business.
Alternative finance activities such as crowdfunding, peer–to–peer lending and invoice trading have emerged as a significant funding mechanism and source of capital in the UK in recent years. Meeting the capital needs of both individuals and business as well as facilitating fundraising activities for civic projects and social causes, alternative finance intermediaries have become online marketplaces where individuals, rather than institutions, work collaboratively to form capital. Nowhere is this more evident than with the growing market for ‘community shares’ – referring to the sale of shares in enterprises serving a community purpose. This type of investment is being used to finance shops, pubs, renewable energy initiatives, food schemes and even piers and football clubs; in which local people come together to take real and meaningful ownership through investing in valuable community assets. In the last five years, there have been over 200 share offers, raising nearly £40m from across 35,000 supporters.
In light of this growing market, the Community Shares Unit was established in 2012. The unit is a dedicated support service delivered by the long-standing partnership of Co-operatives UK and Locality, and backed by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCGL) to grow a sustainable market for community shares. Central to this, is the development of an online ‘crowdfunding’ platform - Microgenius to make it easier and simple for supporters to buy shares in community-based projects and for enterprises themselves to manage their share offers. The development of this platform is in light of the wider role technology is playing in facilitating alternative forms of finance.