On the Co-operative and Community Finance website:
In 2013 ICOF Group & ICOF Community Capital issued £1,206,856 in loans and investments to co-operatives and community-owned organisations. It was the most successful lending record since 2007. £789,856 was lent from ICOF funds and a further £335,000 from the Co-operative Loan Fund, which is managed by ICOF Group & ICOF Community Capital.
The Community Shares Fund, which they also manage, bought £82,000 of investment shares in various community owned ventures. Community Shares have been used to finance shops, pubs, community buildings, renewable energy initiatives, local food schemes and other community based ventures.
In the past employee buyouts have been supported – in 2009 a loan was made to the employees of West Highland Free Press, a newspaper that has been published on the Isle of Skye for the last 37 years. Ten employees now own and run the business, and the creation of an employee benefits trust will ensure that the paper continues to run at the heart of the community.
Clansman Dynamics designs and builds robotic handling equipment used in forges and foundries all over the world. Dick Philbrick, who owned most of the shares wanted to reward those that had helped to develop the company by selling it to them. With the help of employee buyout specialists BAXI, ICOF and Scottish Enterprise in 2009 Clansman became an employee-owned company and has prospered.
Not all prosper however. It is sad to read about the recent failure of the Cwm Trannon co-operative and its large debts. This 2010 borrower, which was serving two remote villages in mid Wales, bought and refurbished the local garage to set up a shop, Post Office, cafe, workshop, and established what may be the only community-owned petrol station in the UK.
Oxford Wood Recycling provides employment and work experience for disadvantaged people. The team collects waste wood, timber and pallets from construction sites, business premises, and universities/colleges within a 30 mile radius of its base in Didcot, carrying out 60 plus collections a month – an economic and environmental alternative to a skip. At its industrial unit in Didcot the wood is sorted and de-nailed. About a fifth of the timber is stored for re-use and sold for DIY use or sawn and bagged for firewood. The Wood Shop is located at the industrial unit, and wood can be purchased online. The rest of the collected wood is taken to a licensed recycler for shredding and most used for energy generation.
A loan from Co-operative & Community Finance has enabled it to increase its storage, processing and sales premises and buy new equipment.