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Meet Britain's Biggest Social Crowdfunding Platform

posted Aug 6, 2014, 12:41 AM by Siamak Ebarhimi

In Britain last week, 14.9 per cent of all electricity generated came from renewable energy sources. Meanwhile, India announced the commissioning of the country’s largest ever solar polar plant. And in the US, New York State unveiled a $250m funding package for renewables.
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All these updates – and there are many more – come courtesy of Trillion Fund, the British crowdfunding platform that specialises in raising money for renewable energy projects – and which has just reached a landmark of its
own. The platform’s merger with fellow platform Buzzbnk, which focuses on the social enterprise sector, is set to create the UK’s largest social crowdfunding service.crowdfunding advertising

Julia Groves, the Trillion Fund founder who will now lead the business, reckons the platform could raise as much as £500m for renewable energy projects and social enterprises over the next two-and-a-half years – she’s hoping to have raised money from as many as 500,000 investors by the end of 2017.

That would certainly represent very rapid growth for the platforms – they currently have around 14,000 users between them – but Theresa Burton, the Buzzbnk founder who will serve as Groves’ deputy, is confident about the scale of their ambition. “This deal creates a platform of complementary strengths,” she says. “Together, we can provide early stage capital to start-up social enterprises – we can support those worthwhile projects that may be struggling for lack of capital.”indiegogo marketing

It’s certainly true that both businesses have been benefiting from a fair wind of late.

However, retail investors often find it difficult to access renewable energy investment opportunities that are the preserve of large institutional investors. Crowdfunding platforms offering a way into these projects are therefore pushing at an open door.Renewable energy, in particular, is a hot investment right now, given the secure income it generates for investors over the long term – often with the additional benefit of inflation-proofed income that is guaranteed by government in the form of subsidy or even outright price promises.
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Social enterprise investment, meanwhile, has been growing rapidly in the UK and beyond, with a growing awareness amongst investors that it is possible to make good returns on many projects.

The key to success for the venture will be to recognise that this is ultimately what investors are looking for – something that Groves knows all too well.

“Although we really believe in renewable energy, our business model is about making a profit – we take a fee from projects we help to fund – and helping investors to make money too,” she says.kickstarter project

“I’ve been trying to sell renewable energy as a concept for nine years and I’ve got the grey hairs to prove that the only way to do that is as something that’s commercially viable and economically profitable.”

That will be music to the ears of the backers of Trillion Fund, named on the basis of the $1 trillion a year that the United Nations reckons it is necessary to invest in order to prevent global warming.

Chief amongst those backers, by the way, is a famous name. Trillion Fund’s largest investor is none other than fashion designer Vivienne Westwood.CrowdFunding advertizing

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By David Khorram