PUBLIC RELATIONS HOLDSWORTH ASSOCIATES

Support ‘home-grown business’ call from Foundation East

Community finance organisation membership drive will fuel growth in local economy

Community finance company Foundation East is launching its ‘support home grown local business’ campaign to encourage new members.

This year the mutual society has loaned £750,000 to businesses that had been refused bank finance despite having a viable business plan. These companies, along with those the society supported in previous years, continue to prosper. Foundation East wants to build on its successful model and loan even more in the coming year.

Foundation East is a membership society, similar to a cooperative. Its members are individuals or organisations that want to help other local people to grow businesses of their own.

‘Home grown businesses’ that have thrived include:

  • KrazyDayz, a children’s nursery;
  • Omnisense, developers of a wireless sensor system – now taking on staff as it begins large-scale trials;
  • Chordal Green, a joinery company making handmade furniture, who needed finance to expand its workshop to meet demand for its quality products;
  • Sir Juiced from Norwich which provides a catering service for business people in the surrounding area.
  • David Coe, a goldsmith from Norwich who repairs and restores antique jewellery and with the help of Foundation East purchased the latest technologies so he could expand the services he offers;
  • CEG Productions, a stage hire company founded by three young people;
  • Hubbard’s Pork Shop;
  • AMayze’n’Glaze, a window cleaning company founded when Andrew Maze lost his job in the recession. Andrew needed finance to buy a van but was turned down by the bank. Since receiving a loan from Foundation East Andrew has gone from owning a squeegee to running a business full time!

Katy Ford, Chief Executive, Foundation East says:

“Our members get a real sense of achievement when the companies Foundation East has supported do well.

“When the businesses take on new employees members feel there is a real social return on their investment.

“Friends and family have often been the initial source of finance for early stage businesses, and we are revisiting this concept by offering the wider community an opportunity to support their local economy.  

“The decision to award a loan is made by a panel of members, many of whom are entrepreneurial business people or professionals themselves and who understand the skills and energy needed to run successful ventures.  

“We want to encourage individuals and established businesses to participate in the work of Foundation East so that more small, local businesses can be assisted to grow, not just with the finance they need, but with valuable support from a wide network of useful contacts.”

To become a member, individuals or companies make a social investment in the form of shares.

This money is used to leverage further funding which then allows a greater amount to be lent to the business community. Other finance comes from grants, contracts and borrowing but members are the lifeblood of the organisation.

Member Richard Glinn says: “Running a successful business can dramatically improve people’s lives, wellbeing and even health – the whole community feels the benefits.

“Being part of the loans panel gives me the opportunity to get involved with other interesting and self-motivated people, who share the same values.”

Foundation East is a membership organisation that provides small business loans of up to £50,000. An investment in Foundation East, through the purchase of shares, enables members to assist in the growth of small local companies.

For more information on how to become a member see www.foundationeast.org.

Case studies of all the companies mentioned are available at www.foundationeast.org/page/case-studies.

 – ENDS –

About Foundation East

Foundation East is an Industrial and Provident Society established in 2004.  Its members are individuals and organisations that support its vision: to increase prosperity and quality of life by providing finance to viable businesses that have been refused bank finance.

Foundation East raises funds from its members, both individuals and corporates, in the form of non-transferable shares. Finance also comes from charitable and local government grants.  Business loans are leveraged against this capital which is held as a security deposit with Unity Trust Bank.

There is a growing consensus across society that a more pragmatic approach is needed to support local businesses, and of the wider benefits that can be gained from maintaining employment in the community. 

According to the New Economics Foundation there are around 80 community development finance institutions in the UK, who have financed 15,000 businesses and sustained or created 33,000 jobs. Foundation East demonstrates that new thinking is possible and it is making a difference to peoples’ lives.

©2015 Holdsworth Associates