Abundance Generation as it was then called, had developed a crowdfunding platform that allowed individuals to invest directly in renewable energy projects. The business filled a critical gap in the sustainable energy finance marketplace by providing affordable finance for projects in the £1 – 4 million range, where the larger commercial lenders were showing little interest.
Bringing sustainability to the mainstream
When it won the Award, Abundance had already invested a total of £10M in wind and solar projects since it was founded in 2012. Now, at the end of 2018, more than £78M has been invested on behalf of 5,000 individual investors, in a range of green energy and social infrastructure projects. Staff numbers have doubled and the business is thriving. It was renamed Abundance Investment in 2015.
“When we started we were at the forefront of what was then seen as small-scale, alternative, green investment. Winning the Ashden Award gave us the confidence to push ahead with our plans to grow the business and start to bring green investment into the mainstream. The contacts and recognition it brought helped us to move the conversation on to the next level,” says Bruce Davis, co-Founder and Managing Director, Abundance Investment.
Abundance continues to lead the way in green finance and its influence is growing. It is involved with the Government’s Green Energy Task Force and launched the UK’s first Green ISA in 2016. Earlier this year, thanks to lobbying by Abundance and the UK Crowdfunding Association, the law changed to allow this kind of platform to offer investments in larger projects, up to £7M.
Impax Ashden Award for Energy Innovation
“We are still focussed on providing a high quality service that allows ordinary people to invest well. Our minimum investment is still £5 and our customer base has grown consistently since we started,” says Davis. “It is the size of the projects we invest in that is changing and the range of financial products we offer. The more clients we work with, the greater impact we can have.”
The approach has yielded a strong business performance. Abundance has funded 34 investment projects and returned a total £12M to its investors in the six years since it started. Investor numbers are up by more than 50% since 2017 and the average portfolio size has grown by nearly a third. Its customer base has proven loyal and it ranks well alongside other financial services companies on customer review web sites. “We know we are good at what we do. It is great to see that increasingly, others recognise it too,” says Davis.
There is no let up in the pace of growth for Abundance or its ambition. The business has a mission to change the investment landscape for good to one that is more democratic and open, where people have control over their money and how it’s invested. The business is currently raising equity on the crowdfunding platform Seedrs for the next stage in their scale up and offering a new pension product for long-term investment. “We want everyone to be able to take part in the transition to a better world and share in the financial benefits from doing so, be that through their investments, their ISA, their pension, or as a shareholder,” says Davis. “The best way to get people to engage with the issue of climate change is to get them invested in the solution.”
Davis and his team are optimistic about the future. In the few years since they won the Ashden Award they have seen a clear shift in the investment centre ground towards climate change mitigation and clean growth. “Winning the Ashden Award was a catalyst for us as a business and for driving real change in the sector,” says Davis. “There is more work to do but we have momentum now and it is heading in the right direction.”
By Rachel Owen