From an article by BusinessNews Wales
Purple Shoots is a not-for-profit microfinance organisation, set up to tackle unemployment and economic problems in the areas where it operates. Their goal is to improve the situation of people on a lasting basis, and to give opportunity and dignity to those unable to find work. This will help the poorest communities, encouraging independence and small business.
Based at St Catherine’s Church in Pontypridd, Purple Shoots helps people on benefits or a low income to start their own businesses, lending to people who are excluded by the traditional lenders such as banks. Since it was established, it has lent more than £1.2 million to help people across Wales create their own businesses and transform their communities.
Founder Karen Davies told a 'Does Poverty Mean Exclusion?' event at the Welsh Assembly that too many entrepreneurial people were trapped by a benefits system which drains them of all funds before they can claim benefit, including any funds to be used by a new business. And, she said, many people from deprived areas had found a “Got nothing? Get nothing…” attitude from traditional sources of business funding.
Instead of looking at stereotypes, Purple Shoots understands that people within communities know better than anyone else what’s needed to transform their economies. Karen said “We listen to them. Instead of the stereotypes, we have found resilient people who understand what’s needed in their areas.”
Thanks to the fact small business people spend within their communities and create jobs, Purple Shoots estimates the impact of their lending has seen a benefit of around £12 million to the Welsh economy over the past five and a half years.
The businesses it has helped create are hugely varied. They include a café, a cake making business, a dog grooming parlour, a business making preserves, a kayak angling business, a business which helps train families whose loved ones have dementia, a stonemason, a craft pottery, a bespoke embroiderer, and a jeweller.
One business which began with Purple Shoots’ help was Tiff’s Cleaning Angels, a Cardiff-based business established by Tiffany Bramley. Tiffany creates strong relationships with her vulnerable clients. She offers them cleaning and general household tasks. She spoke about the help she had received from Purple Shoots, “After the death of my daughter five years ago, I needed time to grieve. But, it meant that I forgot to pay a few bills and it affected my credit rating. I wanted to rebuild my business but the bank highlighted my credit history. Then I met Karen at Purple Shoots and she became my angel.”
The loans are small, the average size is £2,700, and 70% of all loans are given in the bottom 50% of deprived areas in Wales. 96% of borrowers were on benefits when they were given a loan and around 400 people have been able to get off benefits as a result of getting funding for their business from Purple Shoots.
More than 370 new businesses have been started with the help of the funding and more than 460 loans have been given to would-be business people since 2013.
Purple Shoots also helps like-minded people to set up self-reliant groups in their area, looking at ways of creating income for their members and, often, leading to the establishment of community businesses.
The charity’s success has sparked interest across the UK. Their website is here.
9 years into the journey. £1.8M loaned. 770 loans made, 600 new businesses. 170 existing businesses supported. 925 people out of unemployment. 47% of loans are to women. 500 people in 60 self-reliant groups.
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