Innovation Shorts: How Robert Owen Community Banking are designing innovative financial solutions for communities
Robert Owen Community Banking is an award-winning social finance company providing ethical loans for local businesses, people and community organisations across Wales.
In March they were awarded a prestigious Citi Micro-entrepreneurship award, that recognises the ‘Social and Community Impact’ that they have made across all of their loan book. This includes their work financing community energy schemes. But it also includes their work in lending to start-up businesses across Wales as a delivery partner to the Start Up Loan Company, and their innovative delivery of Zero Interest Loans for energy efficiency and household renewables and Home Improvement Loan funds within Powys.
Their domestic energy loans have made a significant impact upon the installed capacity of a number of renewable energy technologies in Powys, as evidenced by the Low Carbon Energy Generation Report issued by Welsh Government. This is real success. Not only are they helping Powys homes to be more sustainable, but they are capturing income from renewables subsidies into the local economy, as well as making investment go further by recycling the money they put out, time and time again.
Robert Owen are a young social finance company, but the nature of what they do and how they seek to help is starting to be recognised, not just by award givers like Citigroup or investors like Powys County Council, but by a wide network of supporters who assist them in their work.
“It is only right, therefore that we dedicate the Social and Community Impact Award to all those who recognise the social and economic benefits that we are seeking to achieve through our loan products, and who help us to deliver them.” Nick Venti, Robert Owen Community Banking
Collaboration has been key with an impressive list of individuals, such as their volunteer directors and all those who play a role in assessing loan applications and mentoring our clients; their small investors such as Cae Post, Storm.com, and Newtown Town Council; organisations, such as Community Energy Wales, who helped develop the initial funding application to Big Lottery for the Community Energy Fund; Powys County Council’s Private Sector Housing Team, for taking an initial risk in trying something new, and their Cabinet for continuing to support success; and the Start Up Loan Company, who have allowed them to support enterprising individuals to start up rewarding and profitable businesses.
But their work doesn’t stop there, Robert Owen Community Bank are certain that what they do with their finance products makes a difference to the wellbeing of individuals and communities. They want to extend the reach of the investments they make, so that more people across Wales can benefit. To do this they need access to new sources of capital, whether this be from private or public sector sources. They hope that the recognition they are now receiving will help them to make a case for this new investment and that the future will see the growth of more innovative, enterprising, sustainable and responsible finance solutions in Wales for years ahead.
To find out more visit: Robert Owen Community Banking