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What Is Socially Responsible Investing?

In the twenty first century, most investors are looking for more than just a good return for their money.

They want to be sure that they are making a positive contribution to society, using their money to tackle the important challenges of today, such as poverty, discrimination, disease, war, or climate change.

Socially responsible investing is an increasingly popular choice for people looking to make a positive difference to their community and their environment.

Investors are looking for ways to put their money to good use whilst still making a reliable return. Some examples of socially responsible investing could include schemes that provide access to clean water, health care, housing, schooling, or clean energy.

Find out more about invsting in green energy with our ‘Beginner’s Guide To Investing In Community Energy’:

People who have been trained as solar engineers through socially responsible investing opportunities in India demonstrate bringing solar powered light into their homes
Socially Responsible Investing: Women who have been trained in solar engineering bring solar powered light into their homes

The Dark Ages of Investing

For most of history, people made investments in order to earn themselves and their family a good rate of return. It was usual practice for investors to give their money to the fund managers that promised them the best return.

This could easily mean that people ended up sinking their finances into anything from oil to weapons to irresponsibly issued mortgages.

The financial crisis of 2008 brought home the message that it was too often the case that people’s money was being invested where it shouldn’t have been. Not only did this cause great economic upheaval, but it was causing misery to millions of vulnerable people across the globe.

The Rise Of Socially Responsible Investing

Happily things are now changing, and many modern investors are determined to achieve more than simply increasing their bank balance.

In addition to actively avoiding investments which can cause harm to others and to the environment, people now want their investments to achieve something positive.

They want to create a legacy that they can be proud of and to feel they are part of a movement that is changing the world for the better. They want their money to do good.

They want to join the movement towards socially responsible investing.

Socially Responsible Investing: Tree planting initiatives in the Maldives
Socially Responsible Investing: Tree planting initiatives in the Maldives

Making Investing Available To A Wider Audience

As well as changing the kind of investments that people are making, there has also been a seismic shift in the type of people that are investing.

No longer is investing confined to wealthy angel investors and stock-brokers from the City of London. Many socially responsible investing opportunities have a comparatively low threshold investment (at BHESCo the minimum investment amount is £250). This means it is far more attainable for the average person to become a shareholder and investor in socially responsible businesses.

What’s more, the continuing rise of the internet has made information about socially responsible investing much more accessible. People can research businesses they want to invest in just by typing a phrase into Google or by asking friends for recommendations on Facebook or Twitter

Sharing recomendations and making referrals can also create a feeling of being part of a wider community that is coming together to make real positive changes in the world.

Brighton and Hove As A Hub For Socially Responsible Investment

Brighton and Hove is well known for its progressive and forward thinking environment, which has helped to cultivate an abundance of innovative social enterprises for such a small city.

The local socially responsible investor is spoilt for choice with opportunities to invest in businesses which are creating a better world. Whether that’s investing in the UK’s first solar bus fleet or the world’s first football team to pay women the same as men, there’s plenty of scope locally to support something groundbreaking.

No doubt many socially conscious entrepeneurs feel convinced that Brighton’s liberal and eco friendly ethos is the ideal place to establish their fledgling business. As well as being home to the UK’s only Green MP, Brighton has made a name for itself as a leading city in the digital and tech sector.

Socially Responsible Investing: A boy studies by light powered from solar panels as part of the Solar Aid Socially Responsible Project
Socially Responsible Investing: A boy completes his studies by light provided by solar panels from the Solar Aid project.
Creating Change Through Responsible Investing

Speaking to some of our BHESCo shareholders it is clear that these are the types of motivations that drew so many socially responsible investors to our co-operative.

For some, it was the promise of supporting the growth of renewable energy and energy efficiency in the UK, while others wanted to support work that tackled fuel poverty in Brighton and Hove, a free service we provide that literally saves lives every winter.

The trend towards socially responsible investing is undeniable – people are coming together around the world to pool their resources to champion causes that they believe in.

Today we see the dawn of new type of investor; one with a clear purpose and consciousness about their role on the planet and conviction that they will change the world with the means at their disposal.

Gandhi’s famous call for people to “be the change you want to see in the world” has never been more relevant.