Abundance Generation: Is Crowdfunding Ready for the Big Leagues?
In just a few years, a small but growing number of online platforms have established themselves as intermediaries for relatively small retail investors seeking long-term, stable investment returns. This case study looks in depth at the historical growth and strategic choices facing a crowd- lending platform focused on matching investors with clean energy infrastructure investments in the United Kingdom. Abundance Generation, co-founded by Karl Harder, Bruce David and Louise Wilson, has facilitated more than £7million of investment in 8 wind and solar projects from 1,500 people in just 2 years. Meanwhile more broadly, crowdfunding has emerged as a global phenomenon with the potential to disrupt the existing ways in which modern finance is transacted. Despite these growing trends, a number of questions still remain: What is the potential for crowdfunding as an alternative source of capital for making scalable investments in renewable energy infrastructure? Over the next 5-10 years, what are the different factors – such as regulatory policy, capital constraints and the evolution of crowdfunding platforms – that will influence key decisions to be taken by senior management as it seeks to compete with mainstream banking?
UK Green Investment Bank: New Models in Renewable Energy Finance
The UK Green Investment Bank (UKGIB) became operational in October 2012, supported by £3 billion (approximately $5 billion) of government money. As part of a multifaceted climate change strategy enacted by the United Kingdom, the bank was founded with a mission of “accelerating the UK’s transition to a more green economy, and creating an enduring institution, operating independently of government”. With an experienced, professional management team in place, the UKGIB’s immediate task was to ‘crowd in’ private sector funding on new large-scale clean energy infrastructure. But while the strategic mandate for the bank was clear, a series of tactical issues remained about how to select new investments and manage its growing investment portfolio. For instance, how would the team be able to manage conflicting public and private interests? What specific type of investments would best counter market scepticism about investing in renewable energy projects? Most importantly, what investment evaluation framework would enable them to deliver on their vision of being both ‘green and profitable’?