Taking Crowdfunding Local: Community Sourced Capital
Not that long ago stories would regularly emerge around the supposed death of the high street. The narrative would usually go that big supermarkets are destroying the variety we all apparently love in our local high street, with many independent retailers going to the wall as a result. It always struck me as odd that if so many people supported local retailers, how they could be in such financial strife. There was clearly a disconnect between the numbers supporting them verbally and those supporting them financially.
Of course, since those times, the crowdfunding industry has arrived on the scene, with projects of every shape and size going online in the hunt for funding from their supporters.
One such site in Seattle is aiming to apply this model to helping local retailers. The site, called Community Sourced Capital, asks people to lend money in $50 chunks, up to a maximum of $250 per project, with each project able to borrow up to $50,000. These funds are then made available to borrowers at zero interest, with repayments made according to income levels. Now it should be said that the loans aren’t entirely free. Each business has to pay CSC a campaign fee + a membership fee for using the platform.
Once members have had their loan repaid, they can either withdraw their funds, or invest them into another project. The founders of CSC want it to be more akin to lending money between friends rather than the more traditional commercial model, and as such each loan is simple and un-complicated.
The site is however still pretty new, with 8 projects having received the funding they aimed for thus far. They’re currently in the middle of a summer break but plan to return shortly with some new projects for people to invest in.
Whilst all campaigns are currently from US companies, the site will no doubt inspire others to follow suit in other countries, so the next time people complain about the death of their high street, they might be able to put their money where their mouth is.
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