The Scottish social enterprise body Senscot has put forward plans for an organisation to pool money from Scottish charities and social enterprises and create a fund that will invest in Scottish third sector organisations.
Senscot launched a consultation on the proposed Scottish Community Banking Trust earlier this year, and this month presented the results, which it said showed support for it in the Scottish third sector.
The trust will consist of an anchor fund, which will pool some of the resources of the charities and place them with banks, and a launch fund. It is not yet clear how much money might be available through the venture.
The launch fund, which will be funded with a portion of the interest from the anchor fund and with money from social investors, will make loans and investments into small community organisations.
The trust will also provide advice, brokerage and support services to small organisations seeking finance.
Aidan Pia, chief executive of Senscot, said he expected that by investing some of their reserves communally through the anchor fund, charities would be able to obtain a better interest rate than if they left the money in their own bank accounts.
But he said a lot of work was still to be done before the trust went ahead.
"We’ve had quite a bit of interest, such that we’re encouraged to go further," he said. "A lot will hinge on us getting the business plan right, and getting early adopters."
Senscot is seeking a financial institution to act as a partner for the fund, said Pia. He hopes that the venture will attract grant support from the Scottish government.
"On the back of the support shown in the consultation, they have indicated they will be happy for us to take this on," he said. Pia hopes that Senscot will finish the planning stage by March next year.
If the trust is successful, Senscot will look at setting up a community bank, using the same principles, Pia said. "We are ambitious for a full bank," he said. "But first we have to demonstrate that this will work. Optimistically we hope to set up a full bank in three to five years."