Investing For Income: Is Futureworld a micro economy?

IS MICRO investment the way ahead? Tony Blair seems to think so. In a speech to the National Council of Voluntary Organisations earlier this year, the Prime Minister praised the benefits of "credit unions, community loan funds, development trusts and social banks like the Triodos Bank".

Micro what? Malcolm Lynch, a solicitor who specialises in the field, explains: "This is a growing sector which offers the ethically and ecologically minded the chance to invest across a spectrum of projects. Some offer a high social [as opposed to financial] return, others compete against non-ethical alternatives."

Unlike unit trusts or bank deposit accounts, these are not standard retail investments. Most either give poorer returns or are far riskier.

"You should invest in these only when you have satisfied your other financial needs such as pension provision, or income," says Mr Lynch.

Some are provident mutual societies, which sell "shares" giving member status to their owners, including the right to vote and influence policy.

The Aston Reinvestment Trust, for example, has already raised pounds 800,000 against a target of pounds 3.5m by 2000. You can invest pounds 250 to pounds 20,000, with 90 days' notice needed to withdraw your cash. ART relends in the Aston area, providing capital for business start-ups and community projects.

The Sheffield Employment Bond aims to raise pounds 3m and requires a minimum deposit of pounds 100. The interest is invested in creating jobs in Leeds and investors are guaranteed a return of their capital after five years.

The Wind Fund, sponsored by Triodos Bank, is an ecological fund that aims to finance the development of electricity using wind-driven turbines. The fund has already paid for turbines in Scotland and Cumbria.

Simon Jenkins of Triodos Bank says: "These investments are about putting your money where your mouth is. It attracts those who want a close relationship with the firms or other enterprises they are investing in."

Elsewhere, Parry People's Movers, set up by an engineer, John Parry, to develop cheap urban transport for large Third World cities, now has shares traded on Ofex. This is an exchange for shares in small, unquoted firms seeking private venture capital.

"We have a very loyal band of investors," says Mr Parry. "They have complete and open access to our factory whenever they wish. Many also offer to help the firm in small ways, by making a visit here or gathering some information there.

"Projects of this kind need a little more thought than is normal when you make an investment. You balance narrowly defined prospects of financial gain or loss, with far broader moral considerations.

"These often come down to the simple question: what kind of world do you want to live in?"

There are also signs that a new, distinct group of ethically and ecologically minded entrepreneurs are seeking funds from like-minded investors often by offering shares in privately owned, unlisted companies.

Jamie Hartzell, a director of the Ethical Property Company, says:"We are seeking investors to finance the development of office and business centres for the voluntary and co-operative sectors.

"Our management style is transparent; we are trying to offer an ethical property investment paying dividends and offering capital growth, while at the same time charging low and flexible rents to our tenants."

Malcolm Lynch, 0113 2429600; Aston Reinvestment Trust, 0121 3592444; Sheffield Employment Bond, 0114 275 5721; Triodos Bank, 0117 973 9339

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Loren Hughes: Financial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...

Sheridan Maine: Finance Analyst

Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat