A small community of 100 people on the Knoydart peninsula, west coast Highlands, have launched a fundraising campaign to purchase their only local pub –The Old Forge – under community ownership. The Old Forge Community Benefit Society Ltd has launched a community share offer with the goal to raise £204,500 by inviting members of the local community and interested parties to invest in the society and become shareholders.
Stephanie Harris, secretary of the society says, “After months of hard work we are excited to launch this community share offer and begin raising vital capital to purchase The Old Forge pub. By investing in shares, members will have a direct say in the future success of the society and the pub once under community ownership.”
Community shares are a form of share capital unique to community benefit societies. As a social investment for the greater good, profits will be reinvested back in to the business and other local projects that provide wider community benefit. Shareholders benefit from interest payments and other members perks, have voting rights at meetings and the opportunity to stand for the management committee.
The investment raised from this share offer will go towards the overall capital required to make an offer on the pub. The society has submitted an application to the Scottish Land Fund, which they expect to have a decision on in the next couple of weeks, and if successful the share funds will be combined with the land fund grant for acquisition.
Stephanie continues, “Under our Society’s rules, 75% of the shareholder members must be residents within our community, and this is to ensure that the pub will always be managed by the community it serves. However, this means that we have set ourselves an ambitious target to raise over £200,000 from around just 100 people. To maximise our fundraising potential, we have set the minimum investment amount for the 25% of non-resident shareholders at £10,000. Group applications are welcome as well as individual members.
“In such a small community, pubs play a vital role in the social and economic health of the area. As Knoydart has developed over the last decade, unfortunately our pub has not and today it does not provide the services that locals and visitors expect. We feel very strongly that under community ownership the pub can be rebuilt in to a thriving business at the heart of the community again, and today marks a huge milestone in making that happen.”
The share offer will run for approximately four weeks, and the documents associated with the offer are available to view on the society’s website.