Last week, we attended an event hosted by the South West Investment Fund (SWIF) held at Exeter Science Park. SWIF is the first in a series of new Nations and Regions Investment Funds to be launched by the British Business Bank South West. The Fund promises to deliver £200 million of new lend funding, to the South West of the country, with promises of more funds to follow in the future.
In between talking with fellow attendees, there was a presentation of the three elements of the fund. Smaller loans of between £25K to £100K are accessible for entrepreneurs and start ups and suited to SMEs. Gap capitol or debt finance from £100k to £2M and finally Equity Finance up to £5M are available for funding business growth. The Q&A session got into the details of the loans, and one key take away is that this is person-centric lending. Commitment, passion, vision and attitude have equal weighting with the business plan. A key commitment of the fund is supporting the Investing in Women Code, which supports the advancement of women entrepreneurs.
This type of funding might not be for everyone (it is a loan after all) but one that is not as crudely formulated as the pound of flesh banking loans of old. The SWIF is about helping companies with strong visions and aspirations to access funding that would not be available through traditional sources, or which would come with punitive conditions. The after presentation networking was more lively than many we had attended and the feeling from those we talked with was “get it while it's hot”.
Applications for funding are made directly to the relevant fund managers who can be contacted via the SWIF website www.southwestinvestmentfund.co.uk.