Business model: Rise Computers

Rise Computers is an IT services business which raises funds to regenerate its local community in Southampton.

Rise provides IT support, advice and custom-built computers in a similar manner to a commercial business, but it is owned by the community, and the profits are recycled into the community instead of going into shareholders' pockets.

"This is a very deprived community and it needs the money," says Iain Lucas, managing director of Rise. "We discussed a number of ideas and this was the one the group moved forward with.

"The company exists to trade as a straight money-making proposition. It continues to be owned by the community group."

Initial funding for the project came from local people. "Lots of people put in £10 or £20," says Lucas. "That raised about £7,000 and was enough to get started.

"Most of the profit we've made has gone back into growing the business, and it's going well. We've not taken in any additional funding."

The business also provides social benefit through community projects. "For example, we run PC courses in the local youth club," says Lucas. "Young people can learn how to build a PC and take it home with them. We're able to get second-hand parts they can use for almost nothing."

Lucas now intends to expand the business. "We want to franchise this model to community groups in other deprived areas," he says. "It will give them a way of raising funds themselves to do more community work."

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