Liverpool and Wirral to pilot Social Stock Exchange
A ‘Liverpool and Wirral Social Stock Exchange’ is to be set up to encourage investors to put their money into local, responsible firms to help them grow and expand so they do not have to rely on high street banks or financial contributions from family members.
It will initially run as a 12 month pilot as a regional offshoot of the national Social Stock Exchange, with a view to creating a permanent presence in the area.
The national Social Stock Exchange launched in the summer of 2013 and has built a membership of 35 firms with a collective market capitalisation of £2bn, with companies in sectors ranging from energy to social inclusion and fair trade benefiting so far.
The organisation has been working closely with Liverpool and Wirral Councils over the last few months to research the demand for a local exchange and a great deal of work has already been done securing interest from investors and business community.
A total of 92 percent of businesses who responded thought the initiative would be a good idea, while half would be interested in accessing it in the future and 12 percent felt it would be right for them now.
Larger charities also expressed an interest in investing in the scheme as well as using it to raise funds
Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “This is a really simple concept that could be a game-changer for responsible businesses.
“We know that some businesses sometimes struggle to secure funding, particularly when they don’t have any assets such as buildings that they can borrow against.
“This initiative represents the very best of finance, bringing together investors with a conscience with firms that are out to make a difference and improve lives.
“I am particularly pleased that we have been working in partnership with our colleagues in Wirral, because we both recognise the mutual benefits of having businesses in two large areas of Liverpool City Region eligible for membership.”
It is thought it could generate support for up to 108 businesses who aim to make a social, environmental or ethical impact, and raise up to £75 million in capital.
Cllr Phil Davies, Leader of Wirral Council said: “Our region has a proud history of successfully marrying investment with social improvements, not least the Lever Brothers’ Port Sunlight village, built to house their workers.
“The Liverpool and Wirral Social Stock Exchange will pair up investors with social enterprises in mutually beneficial relationships that will pay dividends for the people of the region as a whole. I am keen to welcome new investment into the borough, and the opportunity to build a strong, sustainable Wirral.
“We are keen to maximise cooperation between the boroughs, and within the wider city region, and it will be a pleasure to share a platform at the International Festival for Business to set out our plans.”
Social Stock Exchange Chief executive TomÃ¡s Carruthers said: “We have already seen how a social stock exchange can work at a national level, but the research we have conducted shows that there’s clear demand – both from companies wanting finance and from investors – to roll this out at a local level. Investors are not only helping support local businesses, but they also have the added benefit of knowing they are improving the local area itself, including the delivery of new services and facilities, as well as job creation.”
It would not be the first time the region had its own stock exchange, as Liverpool had its own dedicated trading floor from 1836 until 1965. It then merged with other Northern exchanges, but the trading floor, which was latterly at Silkhouse Court on Tithebarn Street in the city centre, was in operation until 1985.
Businesses wanting to apply initially complete a simple two page application to the Exchange, and providing they meet the criteria they submit an impact report to the independent admissions panel. Around half of the companies that approach the exchange are granted membership, and an impact report has to be resubmitted on an annual basis.
The move is set to be ratified at Cabinet meetings of Liverpool and Wirral Councils later this month and will be formally launched at IFB 2016 on Wednesday 29 June.