Why you should raise a glass for the Isle of Eigg

The islanders on the small Hebridean island of Eigg have led the way where others have followed in Scotland. Firstly, their landmark community buy-out in 1997, after a succession of uninterested and absentee landowners, other communities have seized the same opportunity.

Old red telephone box on the Isle of Eigg
Islanders own the Isle of Eigg themselves

Secondly, Eigg residents own their own mains electricity grid. Consequently, this electricity is almost entirely from renewable energy. Researchers visit Eigg to study this model of community sustainability. Subsequently, they head back to the mainland and write case studies to encourage its adoption elsewhere. Now an islander plans Scotland’s first co-operative brewery as another example of people power.

A cracking idea for an island

Former secondary school teacher, Stuart McCarthy, is the brainchild behind this plan to brew Eigg beer. He has experience running a nano brewery on the island. Although the beer proved popular on the shelves of budget supermarket Aldi, success did not last. Unfortunately, small scale production proved difficult to make it viable.

Some would see this as a defeat. Instead, Stuart turned the coronavirus lockdown to his advantage. He’s used the time to draw up the blueprint for a new brewery. And he is taking inspiration from Eigg’s sustainability success. That means the brewing process will only use renewable energy. Local farmers will use the by-products on local farms. Importantly, the business will provide new jobs on the tiny island. The social enterprise model reinvests 25% of profits into grants for new business start-ups.

Eigg-sellent way to back community brewery

Even small-scale means big money. £200,000 is needed to build Scotland’s first co-operative brewery. That might not seem much. But it is for Eigg, an island 10 miles from the mainland and a limited ferry service. Finding outside investment is a challenge.

Loch Nan Uamh view towards Isle of Eigg
Eigg is nearly 10 miles from the mainland – Photographer: David White | Source: Unsplash

That’s why Stuart McCarthy is looking to a community share offer as the answer. It’s a solution that many communities have taken to realise their local dreams. There are plenty of small-scale investors across the world ready to fund community projects. And it doesn’t have to be mega-buck investment. Most community options start from £50 or £100 a share. Making such schemes an attractive proposition for someone wanting to support a unique venture.

Whilst the Eigg Brewery is still on the drawing board you can register for further information. That way, as soon as shares are launched you can buy your self a small share in another piece of history that’s ready to be made on the Isle of Eigg.

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