2.1 Introducing the Booster Programme
The Community Shares Booster Programme is a funding scheme to support community share offers. It will invest equity up to £100,000 to match community shares in societies that can demonstrate higher than average levels of community impact, innovation and engagement. The programme will also provide development grants of up to £10,000 to help societies get investment ready and meet standards of good practice. Match funding will be in the form of equity held on equal terms with other community shareholders.
Power to Change has provided £3m funding for the Booster Programme over a five-year period from 2017-22. The programme is expected to match fund around 60 share offers in the first three years of the programme (to 2020) and then provide active investor support to societies on a continuing basis. The programme is run by the Community Shares Unit, a joint initiative between Co-operatives UK and Locality.
The Community Shares Unit was established in 2012, since when there have been over 350 community share offers in the UK, raising more than £120m in share capital from over 100,000 people. Community shares are defined as non-transferable, withdrawable shares in an asset locked society that has at least 20 member-shareholders and £10,000 in share capital. Power to Change funded the Community Shares Unit to run a Booster Pilot Programme in 2016-17, which resulted in 12 societies launching successful share offers, raising over £1.5m in community shares, matched by just over £600,000 of Booster equity.
The objectives of this new Booster Programme are to help disadvantaged and under-represented communities develop successful community businesses, especially in under-represented trade sectors, and financed through community share offers based on new forms of investment proposition, institutional support, and business appraisal methodologies. The programme is aimed at new and existing community businesses; it is not suitable for newly formed community groups that are in the early stages of developing a community business proposal.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, with grant and investment decisions made within eight weeks of application. Development grants are aimed at societies requiring support to prepare their community share offers and obtain the Community Shares Standard Mark. Applications for equity match are open to societies that are investment ready, including those that have already launched their share offers.