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Share offer launched to fund Scotland’s first community-owned brewery

Plans are underway to build Scotland’s first community owned brewery on the Isle of Eigg, with the launch of a £125,000 community share offer.

Supported by Community Shares Scotland, the offer will fund the creation of a renewables powered brewery on the Hebridean island, with all brewing achieved using energy fuelled by solar power panels. 

Founder Stuart McCarthy, a former secondary school teacher, previously ran a small brewery for five years and now lives on the Isle of Eigg with his wife and children, where they run a 24-bed youth hostel.

“We want to create Scotland’s first environmentally sustainable, cooperative brewery,” he commented. “This feels like a great way to extend the community buyout which took place in 1997 and acted as a showcase for Eigg’s pioneering spirit and commitment to resilience and community ownership. 

“From a tourism perspective, ‘beer tourism’ is on the rise and it is predicted that the brewery will help increase visitor numbers, spending and the wider demographics.”

Community shares in the Isle of Eigg Brewery are priced at £1 and the minimum investment is just £100 – or £50 for Isle of Eigg residents. There are also options for earning tax relief of up to 50% on investments made. The aim is to pay 1.5% interest on investments after the third year. 

McCarthy has pledged that by year three, a quarter of the profits will be used to fund grants for local entrepreneurs who want to take forward their own business ideas.

“We want to help empower business ideas for a sustainable, cyclical, fairer economy and so we’ll create an annual grant to help local business start-ups,” he stated.

Community Shares Scotland, an initiative set up with funding from the Scottish Government and the National Lottery Community Fund to support the raising of money through community shares, has supported almost 400 community groups since the programme launched in 2014.

Morven Lyon, programme manager at Community Shares Scotland, said: “The community shares model is highly resilient, particularly in rural areas of Scotland which might struggle to maintain a private business. 

“With the uncertainty and upheaval which the Covid-19 pandemic has wrought across the country, there appears to be an appetite for socially conscious projects and investment models which deliver a renewed sense of community and local identity.”

Published in Insider -