The Units of Trust scheme investing in local, sustainable enterprises

Units of trust are simple investment devices based on preferential debentures. Put simply, you invest money in a company you purchase from regularly. You do not get back money primarily from the company, but you get what money can buy – goods, services, or use of physical assets. When you wish, you can get the original investment back.

Of course, any company can issue an investment instrument like this, but we believe a local scheme has several advantages.

1) Education: the effort needed to explain to the public and to entrepreneurs is shared amongst those companies participating

2) Recognition. Local consumers will recognise the scheme and a shared scheme carries more credibility

3) Comparison. If units are valued similarly across the board, investors will be able to compare and contrast offerings from local companies.


Vouchers are one way for business owners to clarify and concretize the benefits of investing in a unit. The vouchers can illustrate usufruct benefits like the use of premises at cost, or a share in the normal production of the company at reduced costs. It can be a good idea to show vouchers to prospective investors so they can quickly grasp how their investment will affect their economy.

The voucher design can vary between companies, but the logotype for the scheme shows how the offering is part of a local business development initiative. As units are initially all for a standard sum, vouchers help investors compare opportunities.

Example #1: investors in sheep get one free meat delivery a year and free sausage making courses

Example #2: investors in a Market Garden get 30% off purchases

Example #3: investors get free help with setting up a local Unit of Trust scheme as well as marketing help

The following is a voucher from Austria. Investors in a solar power project get a certain free allowance of electricity.

Read more here. See the film here. Read the white paper.

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