Record annual lending by region’s alternative funder creates or safeguards nearly 1,500 jobs

July 20, 2023

Regional alternative finance lender South West Investment Group (SWIG) lent a record £14m to ambitious small and medium-sized businesses across the region in the past year, new figures show.

The non-profit group, which supports viable businesses that cannot secure sufficient funding from their bank, provided 559 loans to 478 start-ups and growing firms in 2022/23.

This helped create or safeguard 1,045 jobs in established small businesses and a further 437 new ones in the start-ups it supported.

According to SWIG’s latest annual impact report, the combined economic benefit generated by its lending totalled more than £44m, using a tool developed by the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI).

Some £6.2m of the total lending went to 414 start-ups, 93 of them in the Bristol/Bath area. Female-led start-ups accounted for 39% of the new businesses supported, while 13% were ethnic minority-led.

Lending to established small and medium-sized firms totalled £7.8m, with 64 firms received funding – 14 of them in the Bristol/Bath area Some 45% of these businesses were female-led with ethnic minority-led firms making up 18%.

Among the Bristol organisations to benefit from SWIG lending was sustainability consultancy Future Leap, which provides the business community with sustainable physical workspaces, alongside a support network helping businesses to develop more sustainable processes and practices.

Now one of the UK’s largest green networks, it received £250,000 in funding from SWIG to develop a new collaborative workspace in Bath, creating 22 jobs and safeguarding nine.

Future Leap managing director Fenna Leake said: “This funding will help the business grow at a much quicker pace.

“Future Leap’s mission is to help other organisations to become more sustainable. By expanding our in-house team, and our operational capacity with new sites, we can support even a greater number of businesses with tackling the climate emergency and planning for net zero.

“This impact of this funding will have a far-reaching and hugely positive knock-on effect across the region.”

SWIG said its record lending had come against backdrop in which the region’s business community had witnessed various external shocks, including rising energy and other input prices, staff shortages, and higher interest rates.

These had presented new challenges and headwinds, triggering a fall in business confidence as the year progressed.

SWIG managing director John Peters, pictured, said: “I’m proud that we have supported so many remarkable entrepreneurs and small business owners.

“These resilient, determined, and creative people are building enterprises that are not just surviving but often thriving – and making a positive difference to their local communities, even in these difficult times.”


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