Great Western Credit Union (GWCU) has announced the reopening of their recent successful Bond Offer, with a maximum target of £2m, to provide ethical, fair and affordable finance to thousands of people in the region over the next decade.
The initial campaign, from April to July 2023, topped out at £1.4m from 214 UK-wide investors and raised almost 80% over the initial target of £800,000.
Fair4All Finance will match investments pound-for-pound up to £1m, meaning there is a maximum total opportunity of £2m. The Bond Offer, hosted on the Ethex platform, will remain open until 31 October; however, it will close sooner if the remaining amount is raised.
The raise offers investors a target 6.5% return, which is paid annually for the eight years of the bond, though any capital invested is at risk*.
Additional funds will further help support the credit union’s transformational growth over the next decade. This includes plans to increase GWCU’s membership, by extending the benefit of accessible savings and affordable lending to more people across the region, as well as improving the digital platform by introducing new capabilities such as video chat to support face-to-face services.
GWCU will also develop their employer partnership scheme, Money@Work, with the aim of including more local businesses and thus helping to offer more employees positive financial wellbeing.
The credit union has previously received significant investment to help facilitate its digital transformation and sustained growth, including from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Bristol City Council and Bank Workers Charity.
The success of GWCU’s Bond Offer follows significant growth in the popularity of credit unions, helping to support underserved groups and providing a mutual and sustainable alternative to traditional forms of finance. Findings from the Bank of England show that there were 2.14m credit union members in 2022, more than double the number in 2012.
James Berry, CEO of Great Western Credit Union, said, “The cost-of-living crisis continues to be a major concern for millions of people across the UK, with inflation still at record levels, and it’s hard to predict when things will improve.
“Access to affordable credit and education around better money habits allows people to feel more in control of their finances in their time of need and so we hope that by reopening our Bond Offer, we can help provide a significant difference to thousands of people across the region.
“The popularity of the raise already highlights the need for these services and we’re hoping to help revolutionise the way that people access credit unions and affordable finance in the years to come.”
Holly Piper, Investment Director at Fair4All Finance, added, ‘We are delighted to support Great Western Credit Union as they serve an increasing number of customers in financially vulnerable circumstances across the South West.
As part of our Affordable Credit Scale Up Programme, and alongside other pioneering social investors, we have committed up to £1.5m in long-term subordinated debt to support them as they sustainably scale up their lending capacity and widen access to fair and affordable credit, helping build financial resilience across the region.”
*Any money invested is fully at risk and is not protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.