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March 23, 2022

Driving positive change through business

Nigel Kershaw OBE, Chair of The Big Issue Group and Co-founder and Director of The Big Exchange, tells us about the history of The Big Exchange and how it is rooted in the aims, ambition, and mission of The Big Issue.

Nigel Kershaw OBE, Chair of The Big Issue Group and Co-founder and Director of The Big Exchange, tells us about the history of The Big Exchange and how it is rooted in the aims, ambition, and mission of The Big Issue.

Driving positive change through business

The principle of financial inclusion - ‘a hand up not a hand out’ - underpins everything we do at The Big Issue Group. 

For us, creating positive change through business has never been a contradiction. This is because our business is our values. 

The Big Issue magazine was founded in 1991 to offer employment to homeless people, rather than charity. It aims to dismantle poverty through opportunity and self-help; it’s a business solution to a social problem.

In 2005, we launched Big Issue Invest to drive social change through investment. By providing loans and investment to social enterprises - instead of charitable donations - it helps them to grow their business model and in turn, increase their impact on society. 

Profits and principles working together

We are constantly challenging the idea that you can’t do anything of value without it being charity. Rather than being separate goals, making money and a positive impact can work powerfully together. 

 As long ago as the 1980s, The Body Shop (whose co-founder Gordon Roddick started The Big Issue along with Lord John Bird) illustrated this beautifully.

You’d see its lorries on the motorway with an advert on one side for peppermint foot lotion and an advert for Fair Trade or a campaign against domestic violence on the other. No-one thought this was contradictory because it was marketing its values. 

The Big Exchange takes this concept - of using business as a force for good - into the world of investing. It makes it possible for anyone with savings to invest in their own future and the planet’s at the same time. 

It’s a transformative idea, where people can invest in a choice of 65 funds - from just £25 a month or a £100 lump sum - where there is no contradiction between personal principles and financial returns. 

We know that people have different reasons for saving and investing. While younger people tend to save for a big event or milestone such as buying a first home, getting married or having children, older people tend to save for their longer-term future such as their retirement years. 

Our customers on The Big Exchange may have different motivations to build an investment pot, but they are united by values. They can get a ‘hand up’ for themselves while also giving one to the world we live in, and to future generations too. 

Trusting that what’s ‘on the tin’, is real

The investment industry is changing. More people than ever are looking to invest their money sustainably and financial providers are rushing to offer ‘ethical,’ ‘sustainable’ or ‘ESG’ funds to meet this demand.   

It could be that the biggest mis-selling scandal after payment protection insurance (PPI) will be people investing in funds that say they are ‘green’ but really aren’t. 

We want our customers at The Big Exchange to have complete faith that what’s ‘on the tin’ is real. This is why we created our independent impact methodology, which rates all funds on our platform against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. 

Through a unique medal system, people can invest based on Gold, Silver or Bronze medals, with Gold having the highest ability to contribute to environmental or social change. We independently assess each fund on the platform and only award medals where they are genuinely deserved. 

100% transparency

Along with trust, transparency is really important to us. We are passionate about helping people to understand exactly where and how their money is being invested. 

With many platforms, investors can see the top 10 holdings of a fund, but with The Big Exchange (through a partnership with Tumelo) our investors can dig down and see every company within their choice of funds.

We want more people to be asking ‘Where is my money being invested?’ and ‘Is this aligned with my values?’

The Make My Money Matter campaign, led by film director Richard Curtis, highlights how trillions of pounds of UK pension holders’ money is invested in harmful industries, usually without their knowledge. The same is happening with ISAs, savings and current accounts.

Standing with Ukraine

With the Ukraine situation, we’ve seen an incredible and much-needed immediate humanitarian response. But while people are giving to Ukraine with one hand, they could unwittingly - through their pension funds and ISAs - be investing in Russia with the other.

As economic sanctions have been imposed against Russia by governments around the world, our fund managers have been looking into what action they can take. The funds on The Big Exchange already had very little exposure to Russia but where they did, fund managers have sold out completely.

We want people to be proud of their investments.

If you want to bring about positive change with your money - to give a ‘hand up’ to yourself and the planet and society - sign up and become part of our movement.


Please remember that when investing, making money is not guaranteed and your capital is at risk. The value of your fund can go down as well as up. Tax treatment depends on an individual’s circumstances and may be subject to change.

The Big Exchange (TBF) Limited is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Big Exchange Limited. The Big Exchange (TBF) Limited is an Appointed Representative of Resolution Compliance Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 574048). (6804)