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SWIG Finance – Part of the national CDFI network

John Peters, Managing Director of SWIG Finance takes a look at what makes a different alternative finance provider.

At a recent meeting with a team Business Bank Managers, I was asked to explain how SWIG Finance differs from other alternative finance providers operating in the Southwest.

I answered that we are interested in engaging with the customers that you like, but your underwriters don’t.

Because we have our own capital as well as access to other sources of finance, we have our own lending discretions. This means we can look at the whole picture, and not make a decision based on last years’ accounts or background collateral. Indeed, by using the Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) scheme, we commonly lend where there is no security available.

You won’t find SWIG Finance on any of the national bank referral portals. In our view, signposting to a list of other potential funders isn’t a solution for many small business owners, who want someone to talk to about their business and its needs.

The referral scheme – which requires banks to refer any business declined for funding to one of four online funding platforms – has only had very limited success; according to figures published by the Treasury, between 2016 and 2018, 19,000 businesses have been referred via the scheme but only 900 have been granted funding.

This is where SWIG Finance is really different; whilst we are harnessing “fintech” to support our lending operations, our business managers personally engage with all applicants, and meet with everyone we take to credit. We do this so that we know our customers and have confidence that the loan request being made is right for them as well as us.

SWIG Finance is part of a national network of CDFIS (which stands for Community Development Finance Institutions) – and is the only one lending to businesses in the Southwest. This means it is our mission to provide finance where it is most needed to support local businesses that have the potential to create and secure jobs for the benefit of the communities in which they are based.

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