UNITED KINGDOM / AGILITYPR.NEWS / November 20, 2020 / Plans are underway to build Scotland’s first community owned brewery on the Isle of Eigg with the launch of a £125,000 community share offer.
Supported by Community Shares Scotland, the offer will fund the creation of a 100% renewably powered brewery on the Hebridean island, with all brewing achieved using green energy fuelled by solar power panels.
Founder Stuart McCarthy, a former secondary school teacher, previously ran a small brewery for five years and now lives on the Isle of Eigg with his wife and children, where they run a 24-bed youth hostel on the island
“We want to create Scotland’s first environmentally sustainable, cooperative brewery. This feels like a great way to extend the community buyout which took place in 1997 and acted as a showcase for Eigg’s pioneering spirit and commitment to resilience and community ownership. We want to increase economic diversification while sharing our remote island experience and we see beer, the great social leveller, as the ideal way to begin. From a tourism perspective, ‘beer tourism’ is on the rise and it is predicted that the brewery will help increase visitor numbers, spending and the wider demographics.”
Community shares in the Isle of Eigg Brewery are priced at £1 and the minimum investment is just £100 – or £50 for Isle of Eigg residents (Island members). There are also options for earning tax relief of up to 50% on investments made. The aim is to pay 1.5% interest on investments after Year 3. Further information and investments can be made at https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/eiggbrewery.
“I want to create a sense of ownership for the people who run it every day and for the people who buy into it. This means creating opportunities for people in the form of full time permanent jobs, not just seasonal roles.
McCarthy has pledged that by year three, 25% of the profits will be used to fund grants for local entrepreneurs who want to take forward their own business ideas.
“We’re looking to support island resilience by providing better opportunities for our younger generation and are committed to employing 3 islanders over the first 3 years. We want to help empower business ideas for a sustainable, cyclical, fairer economy and so we’ll create an annual grant to help local business start-ups. Our vision, however, is to help increase economic diversification and sustainable growth, so while our business specifically supports Eigg and benefits from Eigg’s provenance, as the product will be available throughout Scotland and the UK, it will not be contingent to Eigg traffic.”
Community Shares Scotland, an initiative set up with funding from the Scottish Government and the National Lottery Community Fund to support the raising of money through community shares, has supported in the region of 400 community groups since the programme launched in 2014.
The organisation has launched 35 community share offers over the past six years, totalling over £12m worth of investment from over 12,000 community members, which has secured match funding of £24m from other sources.
During the past year, Community Shares Scotland has helped to launch six share offers and with several more in development, has experienced its busiest ever period.
Morven Lyon, Programme Manager at Community Shares Scotland, said:
“The community shares model is highly resilient, particularly in rural areas of Scotland which might struggle to maintain a private business. With the uncertainty and upheaval which the Covid-19 pandemic has wrought across the country, there appears to be an appetite for socially conscious projects and investment models which deliver a renewed sense of community and local identity. Community shares deliver this and so much more as well.”
Community share offers make social investment more accessible. 56% of people investing in a community share offer earn £35,000 or less and shares can be from as little as £10 each.
They are also highly resilient, with The Plunkett Foundation - a UK-wide network of rural community businesses - reports a long-term survival rate of over 96% among its seven hundred members.
Community Shares Scotland is a national organisation based in Edinburgh and was launched in May 2014. It exists to raise awareness of the community shares model and support communities who wish to raise money this way.
Community shares are a way for people to invest in what matters to them. Community members buy shares in local enterprises providing goods and services that meet local needs. In turn, the enterprise is controlled and governed by the community it serves.
Community Shares Scotland is delivered by the Development Trusts Association Scotland and is jointly funded by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery Community Fund.