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Triodos Bank NV

Who benefits

Triodos Bank only lends its savers' money to people and organisations who are working to make a positive impact – either culturally, socially or environmentally. These include organic food and farming businesses, renewable energy enterprises, recycling companies and nature conservation projects. Triodos Bank publishes a complete list of all the organisations and projects it lends to on its website.

Awel Co-op Wind Farm

The inspiration for Awel Co-op’s wind farm was the lack of funding for local community projects. Many crucial local regeneration schemes were continually having to apply for grant funding, putting them on an insecure financial footing. So the wind farm wanted to create an income-generating project that could provide a sustainable income stream for these community projects.

The local community group chose a wind project because they also wanted to address the challenges of climate change and transitioning to a low carbon economy. The area immediately surrounding the wind farm has historically been a coal mining community and, with the reduction of mining activity in the area, it had hit hard times. As a result, people have embraced both the idea of the wind farm as a community-owned asset for community benefit, but also moving away from a local economy based on fossil fuels to one dependent on sustainable energy.

The reality is that the wind farm wouldn’t be there without Triodos Bank. It’s a £8.25m project, and the Triodos loan is £5.25m, so it’s an essential part of the scheme. But more than that, the fact that it had Triodos Bank funding gave people confidence in the project. Because it had been thoroughly looked at by an independent set of eyes, more people have been willing to buy into its share offer, which has now raised £3m.

In addition to the financial support, Awel received incredible amounts of advice over the years as it developed the project. Triodos gave the organisation suggestions on how to go about planning and executing the plan to achieve the best outcomes and gave it insight into the types of things that would need to be in place to secure funding.

WhatsCine

WhatsCine is a technological company that was created in 2013 as a result of this research at an academic level, with the aim of providing everybody with the freedom of being able to enjoy the cinema and television, regardless of their abilities and promoting equal opportunities in terms of appreciating audiovisual content. Furthermore, this app allows for additional languages and original versions to be used, expanding the range of options and bringing audiovisual content to an even wider audience.

WhatsCine offers the first and only technology in the entire world to date capable of bringing cultural content to people with audiovisual disabilities in an inclusive manner and without affecting other viewers.

It uses tailor-made software available in the form of an app for mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) that integrates three accessibility systems: audio description, subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing and sign language interpretation so that the user can choose the mode that best suits his or her needs and enjoy a film at the cinema or television content in real time.

It is difficult to estimate the exact number of people that have benefited from the technology offered by WhatsCine, although the mobile app has been downloaded more than 50,000 times, and has a score of 4.3 out of 5. “It offers us the independence and normalisation we have always sought,” asserts one user. “Being able to enjoy a film at the cinema with my son and family is priceless,” states another.

Seumestrasse 14

Suemesrasse 14 is an apartment building that is home to 30 tenants in the Berlin district of Friedrichshain. Gentrification created a divide right through the building – older tenants in untouched flats were living side by side with new tenants in freshly modernised ones. There was little contact between the two groups as their lives were too different.

The tenants found out that their building was to be sold and turned into an investment property. The fear that they could all lose their homes released a sense of solidarity among them. Apartments in this area are seen less and less as homes for people, and more as investments, where tenants, who cannot keep up with escalating prices for living space, are just a hindrance. This results in leases being terminated for entire apartment complexes. Buildings are refurbished as luxury apartments and let to new tenants. People living on low-incomes are driven away. And impoverished pensioners are forced to compete with freelance artists, welfare recipients and single parents for the last remaining space that they can still afford.

The tenants didn't want to be played off against each other, and so decided to take the step to self-administration. They  managed to convince their landlord not to sell the building to an investor. Instead– with the help of the Edith Maryon Foundation and Triodos Bank - the tenants bought it themselves.

Now the tenants live autonomously in their apartment building, within the Mietshäuser Syndikat alliance (apartment building syndicate). They are their own landlord. The tenants use the land on the basis of heritable building rights and are gradually paying their loan back to Triodos Bank using the rental income they pay.

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