Launch of British Business Bank’s £200m South West Investment Fund empowers small businesses across the region
The British Business Bank has today launched the £200m South West Investment Fund aimed at fostering growth and prosperity for small businesses across the South West of England.
The South West Investment Fund (SWIF) will provide much-needed funding to small and medium businesses across the whole South West region, covering Bristol, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset, and Wiltshire.
The fund will increase the supply and diversity of early-stage finance for new and growing smaller businesses for various purposes, such as expansion, product or service innovation, and new processes, skills or capital equipment.. It will offer a range of commercial finance options with loans from £25,000 to £2 million and equity investment up to £5 million.
SWIF is the first in a series of six new Nations and Regions Investment Funds being launched by the British Business Bank, the government-owned business development bank. A total of £1.6 billion has been committed to the new funds to drive sustainable economic growth, which was first announced by the government in the 2021 Spending Review.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury, The Rt Hon John Glen MP and Member of Parliament for Salisbury said: “The South West is home to some of the most creative, innovative and exciting businesses this country has to offer. This fund will deliver vital investment to nourish that potential, building on over £300 million of levelling up funding to grow the local economy and create well-paid jobs across the region.”
Louis Taylor, Chief Executive of the British Business Bank, added: “The launch of the South West Investment Fund marks an important milestone in our mission to support business growth across the UK. By identifying and addressing funding gaps in the South West, we aim to empower local businesses and unlock their true potential. This initiative will play a crucial role in catalysing economic growth, creating jobs, and fostering innovation in the region.”
The £200m fund has been warmly welcomed by South West business leaders.
Ian Girling, Chief Executive of Dorset Chamber of Commerce, said: “Access to early-stage finance can be a real challenge for small businesses and entrepreneurs so we are delighted to support the launch of the South West Investment Fund. Increasing the supply and diversity of finance to Dorset businesses will break down barriers and increase opportunities for businesses to grow and prosper, and that is very welcome.”
Paul Coles, Chief Executive of the South West Business Council, said: “This fund will provide much-needed investment in the region’s businesses, enabling them to thrive, expand, and contribute to the economic prosperity of the South West. We are confident it will drive sustainable economic growth and job creation.”
One Dorset business that has already benefitted from a British Business Bank programme is Bournemouth-based oyster bar and restaurant Koi Sakana [see full case study below] which recently opened its doors having been founded by couple Daniel Morley and Charlotte Mills.
Daniel said: “It meant everything to know we had that money. It meant we could deliver on the vision we had. We didn’t want to just build a bar; we wanted it to be the best it could possibly be.”
Another Dorset business that has received support via a British Business Bank programme is Camber Cycle Works [see full case study below] in Weymouth.
Founder Simon Spreyer said: “Starting this business would have been impossible without the loan. It was a big relief when the funding came through, but it was also exciting and liberating at the same time. It really felt like the door had opened for me.”
SWIF will be managed by a team of four fund managers that have been appointed by the British Business Bank including SWIG Finance, FW Capital, Maven and the FSE Group.
SWIG Finance will manage the smaller loans part of the fund, from £25,000 to £100,000, for the whole South West. FW Capital and Maven will manage the debt (£100k to £2m) and equity (up to £5m) funds respectively for the north of the region. The FSE Group will manage both debt and equity for the South of the Region.
Applications for funding are made directly to the relevant fund managers who can be contacted via the SWIF website www.southwestinvestmentfund.co.uk
Following today’s official launch in Bristol, the British Business Bank will be holding a roadshow for small business finance intermediaries across the region next week to provide more information about the fund. Destinations include Bristol (7 July); St Austell (11 July); Exeter (12 July); Bournemouth (13 July) and Swindon (13 July).
Business case study – Koi Sakana, Bournemouth, Dorset
One Dorset business that has already benefitted from a British Bank programme is Bournemouth-based restaurant Koi Sakana.
Great location, great seafood, and a great idea – Daniel Morley and Charlotte Mills had all the right ingredients for their new oyster bar and restaurant in the heart of town.
All they needed was some extra financial support to help them get everything they needed in time for Koi Sakana’s opening night last month.
The couple managed to secure a loan from a British Business Bank programme, delivered by the South West Investment Group (SWIG), which has helped them to buy key pieces of stock and equipment.
Daniel and Charlotte had already put in the hard graft, taking on much of the building and refurbishment work needed to make sure their seafood venue in The Triangle was up and running in time for the summer crowds.
The funding ensured that the couple could buy chairs (the biggest expense on their kit list) and a few pieces of equipment, such as fridges for the kitchen area.
“It meant everything to know we had that money,” says Daniel. “It meant we could deliver on the vision we had. We didn’t want to just build a bar; we wanted it to be the best it could possibly be.”
Former engineer Daniel met his girlfriend Charlotte while he was living in Australia. The couple are both from Bournemouth and decided to come back and set up a new life together.
Daniel had spent some time shucking oysters in Australia to earn some money before getting a job building swimming pools when he came back to the UK.
“I basically put all these jobs together and decided to open a restaurant!” says Daniel, explaining how the idea for his new venture came about. “When we came back to Bournemouth, we realised that they grow oysters in the area but there was nothing like an oyster or seafood bar around. We thought – why has no one done this? So, we thought we would.”
Koi Sakana – which celebrates the good luck spirit of the Koi fish (Sakana means fish in Japanese) – had its opening night on June 9.
The restaurant and bar serve the best local seafood around, including oysters, scallops and more. Small plates and simple sides celebrate the freshness of the ingredients. Daniel shucks the oysters in front of his diners sat around the venue’s central L-shaped bar, allowing them to see the whole process from sea to plate.
“The feedback we’ve had so far has been amazing,” says Daniel. “It’s far exceeded our expectations already. There are a lot of things we want to do, like visit a few food festivals and maybe look at doing wedding venues but for now, we’re just going to enjoy running our new business this summer.”
Daniel added that support from the British Business Bank programme provided much-needed peace of mind and he would recommend it to other small businesses.
“We know we have a good plan in place, and we really believe in what we’re doing,’ says Daniel. “Having the loan from the British Business Bank programme has been a great safety net.”
For more information, visit www.koi-sakana.com
Business case study – Camber Cycle Works, Weymouth, Dorset
One Dorset business that has already benefitted from a British Business Bank programme is Camber Cycle Works, a bike shop and repair centre in Weymouth.
The business offers a full range of servicing and repairs, custom builds, and restorations, as well as a selection of some of the best brands on the market.
The St Thomas Street-based shop and workshop is the result of a long-held ambition by founder Simon Spryer to start his own business after working in the bike industry for years.
“There’s never a perfect time to do these things but certain factors lined up and I thought, now’s a good a time as any,” says Simon, describing his decision to ‘take the plunge’ in May last year.
“It was extremely daunting and there were a lot of sleepless nights,” he adds.
Simon knew one of the first things he had to was to secure some investment to help him buy the specialist tools and equipment he needed to start his workshop.
He contacted the South West Investment Group (SWIG), which was able to provide him with a Start Up Loan, a programme of the British Business Bank
“Starting this business would have been impossible without the loan,” says Simon. “It was a big relief when the funding came through, but it was also exciting and liberating at the same time.
“It really felt like the door had opened for me. I knew that it was a commitment, but the payment structure is manageable. It meant I could get the things I needed to start trading build my business in earnest.”
Camber Cycle Works has quickly become part of bike life in Weymouth and moved to bigger premises just a few months ago to allow Simon to keep up with demand for his services.
Even he is pleasantly surprised by the rapid growth of his business, which has allowed him to take on an apprentice to help him manage the workload.
“We’re one year in now and it’s far exceeded my expectations in terms of how fast we’ve grown and the turnover we’re achieving,” says Simon, adding that none of this would have been possible without that early financial support from the British Business Bank programme.
See www.cambercycleworks.com for more information.