Since we began this project in January 2014 it has been a series of two steps forward, quickly followed by one step back. The big event of May was the official launch of the community share issue with a social gathering in the Castle Bytham Village Hall. Although the original target to be raised represented just 10% of the project costs to build a shop/café, it has had two extra boosts. First, we were awarded a grant of £15000 to help develop our business plan and support communicating with the community to promote the share launch. Secondly, we have been given a “Share Booster” award that will match, pound for pound additional financial support, up to a maximum of £40,000. This means we have a new target for share sales to maximise this award and potentially raise £80,000 by this means. We have always had the ambition to complete the project without saddling the Shop with loan or mortgage repayments and this award will go a long way to achieving that aim.
Your main contribution now is to join in the Share Issue programme before the end of August so we can make the most out of the “booster” award. The following may help you understand “community shares:
The term 'community shares' refers to withdrawable share capital; a form of share capital unique to co-operative and community benefit society legislation. This type of share capital can only be issued by co-operative societies, community benefit societies and charitable community benefit societies. The Bythams Community Shop Ltd is a “community benefit society”.
Since 2009, almost a 120,000 people have invested over £100m to support 350 community businesses throughout the UK.
Investing in community shares is a practical way of supporting a business that serves your community. The share capital will help finance the business. In return, you may receive limited interest on your investment. And, if you want your money back, you have the right to withdraw some or all of your share capital, subject to terms and conditions.
Community shares can only be issued by co-operative and community benefit societies. Members have just one vote, regardless of how much they invest.
The Bythams Community Shop has been awarded the Governments Community Shares Standard Mark for good practice. This means our share offer has to:
Have offer documents and application forms that are easy to understand
Provide investors with all the facts they need to make an informed decision
Give investors access to the annual accounts and/or business plan for the society
Do not say things that are purposefully incorrect, confusing or misleading.
This share offer will close in September; after which the “booster award” will match whatever sum we have raised, up to a maximum of £40,000. At this stage COOP UK, which is administering the scheme become a shareholding member. You can find out more by going to http://communityshares.org.uk/guide-investing-community-shares The share promotion opportunities will include a stall at the Midsummer Fair street market and a village BBQ sometime in August. In the meantime, if you have any queries see the “contacts” page for how to reach us.
The Share Issue is only one strand of the fund-raising activity. We have secured a number of major grants for the project so far. The largest are:
£125,000 donation from the landowner
£90,000 from the EU “LEADER” rural development fund
£8000 from SKDC
£15000 from the “Bright Ideas fund from “My Community”
£12000 from the Key Fund
There are also a number of smaller grants, that have helped with the project development and administrative costs, from the Midsummer Fair, Lincolnshire County Council, Village SOS and the Princes Fund.
The most important activity after the fundraising work is now focussed on the actual building. There is still a lot of work to be done to ensure it can be built within budget. We are fortunate in having both an architect and a builder on the team but the site we have and the available budget to build and equip the shop & café are challenging. From the outset, we have been keen not to burden the shop & café with having to repay any significant loans when it starts operating.
On a lighter note, at the share launch in May we invited people to sample the food provided by Hambleton Bakeries, Nelsons Butchers and Grasmere Farm Foods. The majority results rated most products highly - Hambleton’s breads scored well except for their “ploughman’s loaf”. We will look at the results more closely in the coming weeks when considering what to stock.