Industrial Common Ownership Finance (ICOF), a community development finance initiative, has recorded its best lending year.
Chairman Jon McColl told ICOF's 31st AGM last week: "Not only was this the best year ever of lending, but in the past five years the total money lent has exceeded that in the previous 25."
The growth has been achieved through collaboration with the Co-operative Bank. Under the Government's Community Investment Tax Relief scheme, the bank made credit available for onward lending by ICOF.
In the first year of the tax relief scheme, 40 per cent of the money has been loaned out. ICOF also manages the Co-operative Action loan fund, which includes a mixture of grants and loans.
In addition, ICOF has formed a partnership with the Wales Co-operative Centre, helping workers to buy out businesses that would otherwise have closed.