Launched by communities minister Don Foster, the Community Shares Unit encourages people to take a stake in their community pub, football club or local renewable energy project.
Community shares let people take an active in role in their communities by giving members - as part-owners - a say in their success.
Most investors buy shares to help achieve a social good, however if the enterprise is successful they may also benefit from dividend payments.
Dividends can be paid in money, but also in kind, with cheaper energy, cut-price pints, and local, fairly-priced food as possible incentives.
The scheme is backed by the Department for Communities and Local Government and run by Co-operatives UK and Locality - the country's largest network of community led organisations.
It will enable more local enterprises to use share offers as a way of raising finance – in particular risk capital – to purchase buildings or get new projects up and running.
The scheme was launched at the Community Development Finance Association annual conference in Solihull on Friday (5 October).
"We are shifting control away from Whitehall, handing communities the powers they need to run their own affairs," said Mr Foster.
"Across the country, communities are showing they have the ambition and determination to secure ownership of important local assets and get new projects off the ground.
"We want to create the conditions in which social investment and community finance can flourish to make this happen.
"This new unit will give them the helping hand they need to take full advantage of the opportunity to do things their way, in the best interests of their area."
The new unit aims to grow the community shares market with the ambition of launching over 200 share issues over the next three years.
It will also offer guidance and advice to investors seeking to understand more about the market, and support community enterprises, with services such as checking offer documents.
Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, said more and more communities were taking things into their own hands.
"They are investing co-operatively in local enterprises themselves, whether that's football or farming, retail or renewables."
Since 2009, some 15,000 people have invested in more than 100 community share issues, raising over £15m, according to government figures.