Continuing our celebration of the £10 million Start Up Loans milestone, we spoke to Shawnika Sargent, who set up her sports therapy clinic, Up and Running in 2012 thanks to funding from SWIG Finance. The funding enabled her to buy equipment and open new premises on Church Road, Bristol from which she has now built up a solid client base of repeat business. Although she has since moved to a space in Whitefield Road, she said business is going strong.

“Without the loan it would have been a real struggle,” she said. “I had tried the bank but they said no. It can be really difficult for start-ups to get funding.

“I’ve paid the loan off already and business has really picked up over the past year or two. All my work comes through word of mouth now and it wouldn’t have been possible without that initial Start Up Loan from SWIG Finance.”

Sarah Osborn, Fund Manager for SWIG Finance in Bristol, said: “As one of the first Delivery Partners to join Start up Loans five years ago, it is hugely rewarding, having reached this landmark, to reflect on the incredible amount of new entrepreneurship that the scheme has stimulated here in the South West, and the legacy that has already been created.

“Start Up Loans is a key part of the government’s strategy to encourage entrepreneurship in the UK, increase the rate of business creation and improve survival prospects. It provides the right support at the right time and is a fantastic scheme to be part of.”

SWIG Finance is part of a network of similar organisations delivering Start Up Loans nationally, and in the South West, SWIG also provides investment to established businesses looking to finance their next stage of growth.

Start Up Loans provides government- backed loans and free business support for new entrepreneurs and businesses trading for less than two years. It is managed nationally by the Start Up Loans Company, a subsidiary of the British Business Bank. Joanna Hill, Interim CEO at The Start Up Loans Company, said: “The South West is brimming with small business potential, and it’s fantastic that SWIG Finance has provided £10million in funding to support the region’s start-up community.

“We’re proud to be working alongside them to ensure those keen to make their business idea a success have access to low-interest finance and mentoring support.”