The Ecological Land Co-operative (ELC) exists to increase access to affordable sites for ecological land based livelihoods in England, tackling the disconnect between the combined cost of land and rural housing, and the income derived from sustainable rural livelihoods. Sustainable livelihoods such as small-scale ecological food production protect the environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing fossil fuel use. These businesses also help build a vibrant, living countryside where people can flourish and they can provide employment, access to local food and crafts, and educational opportunities for urban visitors.
- Produced a five-year Business Plan
- Share issue and a new site for 3 smallholdings developed in Arlington, East Sussex
- Further share issue launched in April 2017 with Ethex to purchase and develop the third and fourth plots of land, based on the business plan – this raise met its final target of £440,000 and far exceeded an initial offer target of £340,000
- Secured £189,350 in community share capital
- Secured £139,000 in a low interest, long-term loan with an additional draw down facility for £350,000 to purchase new sites
- Recruited new team members and directors as part of a growth strategy
ELC wanted to raise finance for the development of ecological smallholdings in England, to widen access to them. Based on the success of their first cluster of small farms, they planned to expand to create a total of 20 ecological smallholdings in the first five years of the plan and were looking to secure the required investment through community share capital. This would include three smallholdings for outright sale, five for rent-to-buy and nine for rent.
Our consultants assisted ELC with business modelling and financial planning. This included working with ELC to create a business forecasting tool, allowing them to model the Profit & Loss, cashflow and balance sheet both for the sites and for ELC as a whole. This tool was used extensively to examine the financial implications of different growth strategies – the final forecasts generated were used in their five-year business plan, which has now underpinned two share offers. We also supported them on the development of the business plan itself.
We were additionally able to assist them with overall project management and board development. Strong and effective governance is an important part of successful social investment raises and support provided included two events to explore the business plan and assess the outcomes of the modelling work we had undertaken. This was essential to board agreement on the five-year business plan, which will continue to underpin ELC’s future business model for years to come.