In the quiet Cornish village of Tywardreath a radical business venture, Hunter Grange Investments Ltd , is making a significant social impact and inspiring hundreds of local people to invest in entrepreneurial activities to revitalise the local economy and improve amenities.
The company is run by social entrepreneurs and business strategists Trudy Thompson and Josh Taylor. They relocated their successful coaching firm in 2014 from Surrey, to create an Entrepreneurs Retreat at an idyllic 15th century farmhouse and smallholding in the centre of the village.
Being social entrepreneurs they believe in sharing their profits and resources to benefit society, rather than just themselves, which resulted in the farm becoming a thriving hub for entrepreneurship. Local residents benefit from being able to access free advice and the premises to support their micro enterprise. To date, Trudy and Josh have helped over 600 local residents turn their ideas into fully functional, income generating enterprises.
The duo’s profits from corporate business coaching are also channelled back into supporting income generating community activities at the farm. Local people share their skills to create acres of wildflower meadows and food growing plots, beekeeping, local archaeology projects, beer brewing and produce making.
Hunter Grange Investments Ltd is a new company formed to buy business premises and agricultural land in the village, with a view to securing vital services for the rural community and directly benefiting the local economy.
The business plans include purchasing and modernising the village shop and a B&B guesthouse and running them in collaboration with Entrepreneurs Retreat. A new café and a business centre will also be added to the B&B and there are plans to expand the community food and farming activities at the smallholding in Tywardreath.
The village shop and B&B have both been on the market for over a year, with little interest from prospective business buyers but, Hunter Grange Investments believes they are profitable and needed by the community.
“ As social entrepreneurs, we couldn’t stand by and risk seeing our village lose its shop and B&B. They are important to local people and add to the vibrancy of the place. By running them as social enterprises with our commercial venture Entrepreneurs Retreat, it will secure these important small business premises and return long term social and economic benefits for our community,” says Thompson.
To support these enterprises, Hunter Grange Investments has set out to raise £2 million to purchase and renovate the premises. It first turned to the local community to raise loan pledges ranging from £50 to £50,000. The company offers to repay the loan in two years, with annual interest of 6%. The campaign has already attracted the support of 100+ local people, who’ve lent over £200,000 in just 1 month. Just the interest repaid will return more than £24,000 to the pockets of hard working people, many of whom are retired or living on low wages.
“We’ve received an incredible response from local people who wholeheartedly embraced our plans. We are now opening up the opportunity to anyone who wants to pledge to our community loan so we can fast-track the property purchases and keep pace with the amount of progress we are achieving in our community.
“So many of the start-ups we supported are ready to expand into these new premises or want to become a supplier of local produce when we take over the shop. Not only will pledgers be earning 6% on their money but they’ll also be contributing towards the growth of a profitable, revolutionary new venture that exists to directly benefit micro, social enterprises in a rural community,” says Taylor.