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At SWIG Finance, we are advocates for business success.

The Coronavirus pandemic has created a challenging environment for SMEs and startups across the globe, and for many, this disruption has caused business owners to rethink they way that they operate.

For small businesses who are agile and able to embrace change, this unprecedented event has presented an opportunity to adapt with creative and innovative strategies to help mitigate the impact that the pandemic is having on their businesses.

As part of a series, we will be speaking with SWIG Finance customers to find out how they are embracing the change and what steps they have taken to adapt their operating models.

In this instalment, we speak to Graham and Ruth Eggins of Hillside Farm, a holiday lettings and farm produce business based in the Isles of Scilly. With the help of a SWIG Finance loan in 2015, the couple were able to secure the farm tenancy as in-going tenants.

Hillside Farm

About Hillside Farm

Run by Graham and Ruth, Hillside Farm offers nature friendly farmed produce along-side two self-catering cottages within the stunning scenery of Bryher, the smallest of Scilly’s inhabited islands.

The holiday let side of the business generates their primary stream of income, while the farm produce, including beef, vegetables, fruit, eggs and honey, provides a secondary stream of income.

How have they adapted?

Under normal circumstances, the farm produce is sold directly from the farm on an honesty stall basis, primarily to visitors, although many islanders also support the farm. However, with the new social distancing and lock down measures put in place by the government, the hospitality aspect has been temporarily shut down.

This disruption has elevated the farm produce to become their sole stream of income.

Ruth and Graham have promoted the farms produce through social media across the islands and now pick and deliver fresh produce and frozen meat to islander’s doors at competitive prices to encourage islanders to further support locally produced food. They have worked closely with the island shop to stock more of the farms produce and going into the future will work to increase their local market through a veggie box scheme, therefore building a more resilient island-based income.

Ruth has also diversified further by selling her artwork, which she had planned to sell through the island shop, now putting it online at her website www.wildwriter.co.uk and through a newly formed collaborative, The Island Makers, set up in response to the current circumstances.

What lessons can we learn?

During challenging times, it is easy to become blindsided with the negative impact that change has on businesses.

If your business is struggling to adapt, now might be the time to take a fresh look at your various income streams to determine innovative ways to adapt and sustain your business.

Being able to provide a service that benefits your local community as well as your business will go a long way to ensuring your business’ survival in the short term, and your community will not forget which businesses were able to help them during uncertain times.

About SWIG Finance

We are the South West region’s dedicated CDFI (Community Development Finance Institution). This means our purpose is to make finance accessible to viable local SMEs and startups.

We lend to businesses that are unable to secure all their requirements from mainstream sources – whether due to a lack of track record, security requirements which can’t be met, historic financial issues or simply not meeting conventional credit scoring methods.

We understand that bank lending isn’t the right fit for every business, and at SWIG Finance we can often lend when the bank can’t.