Solidarity financing and citizens at the service of entrepreneurs

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Published by Celine Bouton

For many, the financial sector is still an inaccessible and shadowy world, synonymous with speculation, fraud, inequalities and a lack of ethics. The many financial scandals and crises are no stranger to this. However, financing always plays a central role. In the new wave that is engulfing us – eating and consuming differently, thinking differently about the provision of care and training, thinking differently about transport – financing is a recurring theme. Why should this other form of consumption not be accompanied by another form of financing ? Well, this is provided by the solidarity-based financing that comes from the citizens.

The problem

In contrast to the major players in the financial market, solidarity or ethical financing is based on notions of general interest and is linked to social problems . Today, less than 10% of traditional transactions worldwide are destined for financing the real economy, which provides employment (the remaining 90% are securities traded on the markets). Moreover, entrepreneurs with positive innovative projects are all too often pushed aside by the financial system, which has difficulty accepting that profit can no longer be the only performance indicator.

The check

In Belgium, 265 billion euros are currently parked in savings accounts, which fund the markets without the citizens or businesses being aware of this . That is a significant “loss of revenue” for the social and environmental economy, which creates jobs and creates a social fabric. Yet there is no lack of initiatives in the field of solidarity financing , and there is a strong demand for expansion. They have chosen to no longer finance fossil, polluting or tax havens, but to commit to actions with a social or environmental impact. CREDALis a cooperative company that provides solidarity credit, and guarantees every cooperative that its money will be used to finance useful projects: associations, cooperatives, environmental projects … etc. This also applies to CitizenFund , a cooperative that offers citizens the opportunity to invest their money in companies from the circular and the transition economy.

Participate directly in the financing of companies

Crowdfunding, a form of participatory financing, is also a growth sector: In the past 5 years, 22 million euros have been invested in Belgium on crowdfunding platforms. Some of them have the ambition to become 3.0 banks. Among the most ethical platforms is GrowFunding , specialist in transitional projects in the Brussels Region for which donations can be made, and LITA.co , specialist in investments in companies with a major social or ecological impact . The Miimosa  platform  , for example, is devoted to agro-ecological projects, while Blue Bees focuses on sustainable food and agriculture.
FARM, Vidya, MODS, Billy, Bonjour Maurice … were financed in this way by citizens who have become cooperatives or shareholders in ethical companies. In this way, citizens can regain control of their money by investing it themselves in meaningful companies.

Return on investment and impact

Making his “portfolio” sustainable, that is the proposal of impact investing, an investment strategy that seeks synergies between social, environmental and social effects on the one hand, and a neutral or positive return on investment on the other . This is aimed at both the citizens and the companies that strive for a financial return on investment, but who are also concerned about the ecological or social impact of the project, and who are willing to generally commit themselves for 5 to 7 years. With impact investing, returns are rarely more than 10%, but one can be sure that his money is used in a positive way.

Zoom on LITA.co, platform for responsible investment

This crowdfunding platform, launched to narrow the gap between the citizens and the financial world, crossed the border last year, after 3 years of activity with our French neighbors, and can already score 14 million euros on the clock. The principle is simple: from € 100 you can invest in companies with a social, ecological and social impact, and become a shareholder or lender. Moreover, thanks to the Tax Shelter, individuals can benefit from a tax reduction of up to 45% of the amounts invested.