September 22, 2019

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Crowdfunding Emerging as a Tool of Sustainable Finance

Vikas_vij

Green crowdfunding is fast emerging as an innovative practice to support startups and enterprises engaged in the development of sustainable products and services. Online crowdfunding allows for removal of middlemen, and helps in the establishment of a direct financial relationship between socially and environmentally conscious investors and sustainable entrepreneurs.

That’s not to say that the larger financial institutions are not interested. One project that is designed to create new crowdsourcing opportunities in sustainable innovation, finance and customer base expansion has been developed in the UK. The project, the RBS Innovation Gateway has the backing of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and 2degrees, a platform for sustainable business.

Three types of crowdsourcing converge in the RBS Innovation Gateway, which include crowdsourcing innovation, crowdsourcing finance, and crowdsourcing customer opportunities. In particular, the Gateway’s approach to creating financing and customer opportunities for innovators is quite unique. More than 600 innovators have already signed up to the Gateway online within the first six months.

The RBS initiative has three key goals: to help the bank improve sustainability through savings on energy, water and waste reduction across the RBS estate; to nurture a new wave of promising innovators; and to accelerate access to the market. Perhaps the most important role that the Gateway will play is to help startups and SMEs gain their first few customers at a fair price and introduce their innovative solutions to the market.

Martin Chilcott, CEO and Founder of 2degrees said that since RBS opened the gates to the innovations, the Gateway has become a hub of new businesses seeking access to the tools and contacts to bring their innovations to the market. Chilcott hopes that these ideas inspire others to start their own sustainable journey.

Another, grassroots crowdfunding initiative shows how the practice works at ground level. CarbonScape, a cleantech startup in New Zealand, has created a new benchmark by becoming the first company in the country that enables individuals to invest in the startup at a very early stage through online crowdfunding. CarbonScape has raised NZ$468,800 online from 182 investors against a target of $400,000, well before its closing date of offer.

The company’s unique carbon-refining technology will make use of forestry waste to produce green coke and other sustainable alternatives to fossil fuel products. The capital raised through this program will be used to build an 80-ton pilot plant, lodging a new patent, appointment of two new directors, and further research and development. CarbonScape also has wider financing plans to raise $3.5 million over the next 12 months. 

Source: Snowball Effect; 2degrees

Image Credit: Flickr via photosteve101

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