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One-third rise in ethical bank's loans

By Adrian Bishop - 07 Feb 2012 13:23:0 GMT
One-third rise in ethical bank's loans

Image Credit: © Triodos

Top ethical bank Triodos has seen a 36% increase in loans in 2011 to back a range of green businesses. The independent bank provided £113 million in loans to ethical environmental, agriculture, social and cultural businesses last year, compared with £64 million in 2010.

Dr Bevis Watts, Triodos' Head of Business Banking, says: "Thirty-six percent growth over the year demonstrates demand for sustainable finance despite the challenging economic environment.

"It's also an indication that a sustainable and socially conscious approach can help businesses and charities to flourish, bucking the trends of the wider market."

Among businesses that benefited from the loans is organic community farming cooperative Tablehurst Farm, in Sussex, which used the money to install a solar photovoltaic system to convert sunlight into electricity.

Another community body, Sleat Community Trust, on the Isle of Skye, used its loan to buy Toremore Forest, to ensure that sustainable forestry methods and an amenity area was provided for the locals.

Community Base, in Brighton, bought cost-effective office space for charities and voluntary groups and Hull-based Giroscope used it to renovate empty, run-down buildings for those in priority housing need.

A loan was also taken out by Utility Aid, of Lincolnshire, which provides simple, impartial advice on how charities can save money by making better purchasing decisions.

The total amount of Triodos Bank's lending and commitments has now reached £625 million.

The bank was founded in Holland in 1980 and opened its UK office in Bristol, 15 years later. Its ethical lending principles of only lending to enterprises that create social, environmental or cultural value are protected by a special shareholding trust.

Among key sectors that benefit from the bank's services are organic food and farming, renewable energy, social housing, and fair trade. Personal savings accounts are also available and the money is used to support sustainable business projects.

Dr Watts adds, "Demand is so high for finance from Triodos that we now have to carefully select the strongest applicants to ensure the money savers deposit with us has the greatest possible positive social and environmental impact.

"We expect our lending to grow by at least a further twenty percent in 2012, but we could do even more if more people took a conscious decision about their savings, so, I challenge individual savers and businesses to think about what their savings could be doing if their money was deposited with a bank with a more conscious and sustainable approach to lending and investment."

The sectors with the biggest growth in lending by the bank were renewable energy and social housing business. Loans to education sector businesses rose 150%, healthcare by 30%, arts and cultural projects 22% and organic farms 11%.

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