A VISION for a Social Stock Exchange for Liverpool and Wirral has been backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. At the launch of the initiative at the International Festival for Business in Liverpool the Bishop of Liverpool introduced a video message from Justin Welby. In his message, the Archbishop said: “Liverpool and the north west of England have a long history of businesses being immensely successful, courageous, innovative, entrepreneurial, breaking down barriers, going into new frontier areas, emerging markets and changing the society in which we live. “The enabling of large numbers of people without jobs to find work that sends them home in the evening feeling they’ve done something worthwhile, to participate in training and skills development and to themselves develop their own businesses, is something with which you can change the society in which you live. “I spent eleven years in business and I enjoyed almost every minute of it. It’s an exciting thing to do. So I hope that today’s conference will be one that is full of excitement, of joy and imagination and it will lead to businesses that are not only better at what they do, but better for the people who are part of your communities.” The ‘Liverpool and Wirral Social Stock Exchange’ will encourage investors to put their money into local, responsible firms to help them grow and expand so they do not have to rely on high street banks or financial contributions from family members. It is thought it could generate support for up to 108 businesses who aim to make a social, environmental or ethical impact, and raise up to £75 million in capital. Other speakers at the event included Mayor of Liverpol Joe Anderson OBE, the Leader of Wirral Council Cllr Phil Davies, CEO of the Social Stock Exchange Tomas Carruthers, CEO of Blueprint for Better Business Charles Wookey and the CEO of Liverpool & Sefton Chamber of Commerce Jenny Stewart. The pilot will initially run for 12 months as a regional offshoot of the national Social Stock Exchange, with a view to creating a permanent presence in the area. The national Social Stock Exchange launched in the summer of 2013 and has built a membership of 35 firms with a collective market capitalisation of £2bn, with companies in sectors ranging from energy to social inclusion and fair trade benefiting so far. The organisation has been working closely with Liverpool and Wirral Councils over the last few months to research the demand for a local exchange and a great deal of work has already been done securing interest from investors and business community. A total of 92 percent of businesses who responded thought the initiative would be a good idea, while half would be interested in accessing it in the future and 12 percent felt it would be right for them now. Larger charities also expressed an interest in investing in the scheme, as well as using it to raise funds. It will not be the first time the region had its own stock exchange, as Liverpool had its own dedicated trading floor from 1836 until 1965. It then merged with other Northern exchanges, but the trading floor, which was latterly at Silkhouse Court on Tithebarn Street in the city centre, was in operation until 1985. Businesses wanting to apply initially complete a simple two-page application to the Exchange, and providing they meet the criteria they submit an impact report to the independent admissions panel. Around half of the companies that approach the exchange are granted membership, and an impact report has to be resubmitted on an annual basis.