John Peters, managing director of South West Investment Group, offers advice on finding funding to grow a business.
SWIG (South West Investment Group) is a type of not-for-profit finance company known as a Community Development Finance Institution or CDFI and is part of a national network of similar organisations, which as a sector is a rapidly growing alternative source of business finance.
Based in Truro, with an office in Bristol and investment managers working in a number of other locations across the region, SWIG has been operating for 25 years and is the only dedicated CDFI for the South West.
At the moment we are seeing clear signs of optimism, with many businesses seeking to invest in growth after a period of retrenchment.
The challenge a lot of business owners face however is their inability to raise the finance they need from traditional sources, such as their bank because they don’t meet the lending criteria. This can be due to a lack of ‘track record’, a lack of security or a number of other factors which mean that even though the business plan might be a good one, the application still can’t get past the underwriters.
This doesn’t mean you should be stopped in your tracks, because this is where SWIG comes in. In fact, we specifically seek to support those businesses which are ‘viable but not bankable’.
SWIG supports start-ups through to established SMEs and is able to assist most business types and sectors, as long as the investment is helping to create or safeguard jobs.
Cornish based business, Happy Energy launched in April 2013 by renewable energy specialist Adrian Wright has gone from strength to strength following investment from SWIG. Supplying a range of energy efficiency solutions to businesses and homes across the South West including the supply and installation of Biomass Boilers, LED Lighting, Solar PV and Insulation, Happy Energy received £80,000 in loan finance from SWIG to kick start their business growth.
Following the investment, Happy Energy has grown to eight full time staff as well as full and part time temps and generated revenues of more than £12m.
Happy Energy is just one of over 2,500 SMEs supported by SWIG to date.
This article appeared in June Business Insider