Community benefit society Broadband for the Rural North (B4RN) has raised £2 million following its first close on the Triodos crowdfunding platform. The investment has come from both retail investors and institutional investors including the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation’s social investment fund.
The offer has a £50 minimum investment, with an average investment of £3,300. The investment offer is open until July 1 at www.triodoscrowdfunding.co.uk with a target of £3 million and the interest rate on the seven-year bonds is 4.5% per year. As will all investments, capital is at risk and interest payments are not guaranteed.
The capital raised will help to tackle the problem of slow or non-existent broadband, which is a significant issue in rural UK communities, especially where livelihoods depend on operating effectively online. This investment will enable B4RN to expand its gigabit-capable network (the fastest available in the UK) and bring its service to more underserved rural communities.
The investment will enable B4RN to quadruple its network to up to 20,000 properties by 2023. B4RN is owned by its members and invests its profits back into the community in a variety of ways, for example by providing internet free of charge to schools in its network.
Barry Forde, CEO of B4RN, said:“We’re delighted to have raised £2 million through crowdfunding with Triodos. Investors from all over the UK have got behind us and will help us to connect more properties, more quickly than we would have usually been able to do. We also see the impact this valuable service has on communities and how it brings them closer together as they are instrumental in helping to ensure the network connection happens. The future of B4RN is very exciting and we hope to reach our overall crowdfunding target, which will help us to significantly grow the network so more people and businesses benefit.”
Dan Hird, head of Corporate Finance at Triodos Bank, said: “This investment will enable B4RN to substantially increase its network, to connect more and more houses, businesses, community groups and schools to the best broadband possible in the UK in some of our most rural communities. We are delighted to have raised this amount of investment so far and can’t thank people enough for getting behind B4RN. Our goal now is to reach £3 million which will enable B4RN to quadruple its network by 2023.”
Gillian Dickson, social investment manager at Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, said: “Esmée Fairbairn Foundation first invested in B4RN through a small loan in 2014 to help scale its operations. We know how committed it is to delivering this valuable service in rural areas and the difference it makes to people’s lives. We are delighted to be able make a further investment in this crowdfunding offer and to be a part of this opportunity for B4RN to take its operations to the next level. Esmée aims to improve the quality of life for people and communities and we are excited to be involved in BR4N given the immediate benefits this project will deliver.”
An investment in B4RN is not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. The organisation’s ability to pay the interest and repay the bonds is not guaranteed and is dependent on the continued success of its business model. These bonds are unquoted securities with a fixed repayment date and although the bonds are transferable, investors should be aware that they may not be able to access their capital during the life of the bond.
NOTES TO EDITORS
For further information please contact:
Rebecca Bushell, Triodos Bank UK
- T: 0117 3110 225/ 07980601870
- [email protected]
Ellie James, Triodos Bank UK
- T: 0117 311 0241
- [email protected]
Broadband for the Rural North Ltd or ‘B4RN’ was launched in December 2011 by a local volunteer group led by industry expert Barry Forde. Registered as a community benefit society with the FSA (under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965) it can never be bought by a commercial operator and its profits can only be distributed to the community.
The company’s initial share offering raised hundreds of thousands of pounds from the local community and the first ground was broken in Quernmore in March 2012. Within months B4RN’s affordable, community focused model won it the ISPA’s ‘Internet Hero’ award. By 2015 we had 1000 properties connected and received royal recognition with a visit from HRH The Prince of Wales. B4RN is regularly used as a leading exemplar, by national TV and press, of what is possible both in terms of gigabit fibre and an empowered rural community
About Triodos Bank
Founded in 1980, Triodos Bank has become a frontrunner in sustainable banking globally. As an independent bank that promotes responsible and transparent banking, it does not see any conflict between a focus on people and the planet and a good financial return. Instead it believes that they reinforce each other in the long-term.
Triodos Bank has banking activities in the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, Spain, Germany and France as well as Investment Management activities based in the Netherlands but active globally. Triodos Bank co-founded the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV), a network of 54 sustainable banks. Together these banks want to grow sustainable banking and its impact on the real economy substantially.
This financial promotion has been issued and approved by Triodos Bank UK Ltd, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Triodos Bank NV. Registered Office: Deanery Road, Bristol, BS1 5AS. Registered in England and Wales Company No. 11379025. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 817008. VAT reg no 793493383.