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Plan for fair trade stock exchange

The Times, UK

Fair trade brands and ethical enterprises – such as Jamie Oliver’s restaurant Fifteen – could be listed on a new “social stock exchange” under plans being drawn up by the government.

Ministers are working on proposals for an ethical investment bank, supported by hundreds of millions of pounds lying in dormant bank accounts, and a stock exchange where social enterprises and environmental ventures raise cash.

The blueprint, being drawn up by the Cabinet Office with help from the Rockefeller Foundation, would aim to make London the international centre for ethical investors and fair trade firms.

Phil Hope, the Cabinet Office minister responsible for the voluntary and social enterprise sectors, will this week announce proposals for the ethical stock exchange.

The ethical investment bank would be funded by an estimated £250m from money in dormant bank accounts which, under a law being pushed through parliament, can be claimed by the state and reinvested in social projects. The stock exchange would allow firms that plough cash into community ventures to raise cash.

Investors could pump cash into organisations such as fair trade coffee and chocolate firms, housing cooperatives and other enterprises that make profits yet also have a social or environmental objective.

Among firms that would be able to raise capital are Fifteen, which trains disadvantaged young people to be chefs, and Terra Plana, an eco-friendly shoe brand that uses recycled car tyres and rice husks in the manufacture of its Worn Again shoes.

There are more than 55,000 social enterprises in the UK generating about £27 billion a year. One such is the Big Issue magazine which enables homeless people to earn money by selling the publication on the streets.

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