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Summer 2015 Newsletter

Welcome to the summer newsletter which is reporting on activity since January.

Incorporated in July 2013, Purple Shoots is now two years old. It was able to start lending at the end of October 2013 when it got its Consumer Credit Licence. Only one loan was completed before the end of the year so all the activity has been in 2014 and 2015 and loan numbers have been growing steadily month by month.

Purple Shoots was set up as a not-for-profit microfinance institution which means it seeks to provide small loans to individuals trying to start or run a small business who cannot get funding from anywhere else – the aim is to encourage economic development in the most disadvantaged areas of Wales through enabling people struggling with unemployment to set up their own business. In addition to the individual loans, Purple Shoots is also helping people further away from self-employment through self-reliant groups- getting small groups of people together and helping them rebuild confidence, identify skills and develop income generating ideas.

In 2014, Purple Shoots made a total of 91 small loans to 81 different individuals (a few have had follow on loans) 66 of whom were unemployed before they had the loan.  Those figures have now increased to 145 small loans to 40 more individuals (plus some follow on loans) of whom 32 were unemployed before they had their funds. That means that in 18 months Purple Shoots has helped almost 100 people out of unemployment and has helped start or grow 121 businesses. There are also two new self-reliant groups running, one in Pontypridd and one in Ystrad Rhondda.

There have been more great success stories – here are a few:


Jon Griffiths

Jon Griffiths set up “Chillit” as a fridge repair and maintenance business. He had had a similar business in the past with his brother but abandoned it when his brother and then his sister-in-law both became seriously ill and died. Following their loss he suffered from depression for more than a year and his own finances reached a very low ebb. He recovered and decided to start again but by then, he had acquired a poor credit score and he could not get funding from anyone – just for a van and some marketing to get back off the ground. Purple Shoots was able to help. That was nearly 18 months ago. He has grown the business and now has a premises in Blaenavon. He is accredited for fridge dismantling and looking to get contracts from manufacturers and councils to do this and is thinking of taking on staff.


Robin Jones

Robin has set up a small gym in Merthyr Tydfil, aiming to provide affordable fitness options to the local population. He also wants to show those with addiction issues how to use fitness to break free from those addictions. As a younger man, he became addicted to drugs and alcohol and struggled to get himself clean – but he did it using fitness training and his own willpower with some good support and has set up his business to help others to do the same. He has written a book about this and in it he says: “I want to show people that you can get up off the floor and turn your life around if you really want to…it’s my intention…to make my life something I can be proud of and which can provide a life story for my own little boys.”


Leanne Lewis

I’m including her for the sheer genius of her business name – The Wench with the Wrench. She is a lady plumber and handyman (or handywoman)– well able to hold her own in a male dominated space, aiming particularly at vulnerable customers who may feel more comfortable with a lady in their home than a man. She is so successful she has more work than she can handle and is looking for a plumber’s mate.


Laura Ryan

A North Wales investment – in fact based in the village next to the home of Purple Shoots advisor Peter Saunders. She took over an old closed village school and completely refurbished it to turn it into a lovely nursery for children up to school age and an after school club for older ones. She had some of her own funds to put in but not enough and could not raise financial support for the last stage. She opened almost fully booked for the term ahead. She is bottom left in this photo- and the rest are the team of staff she has employed.


Other Highlights so far this year:


  • A seminar on microfinance and self-reliant groups in conjunction with the Evagelical Alliance forWales aimed at churches, encouraging them to get involved as good sources of mentors for borrowers and facilitators and members of self-reliant groups. Speakers included Noel Matthias from Wevolution in Scotland and Rob Parsons, Chief Executive of Care for the Family. Many useful links were made as a result of this which we have been following up. It looks like some more self-relint groups will be starting soon as a result.


  • Attending the self-reliant group celebration in Scotland, meeting members of the Glasgow groups and being inspired by them:


  • Presenting to the South Wales and North Wales xenos business angels network


  • Continued investment from investors taking advantage of Community Investment Tax Relief – an unusual tax relief only available through organisations like Purple Shoots who are members of the CDFA and are investing in deprived areas. This means that anyone investing in Purple Shoots via a loan can gain not only interest payments on their investment but also 25% tax relief over 5 years on the amount they invest. The first investor under this scheme invested in November and others have followed. If you are interested in this, there are some more details on the website or please contact me directly.


  • A further grant from The Fairwood Trust and one from the Community Foundation in Wales


  • Gaining some brilliant volunteer mentors to help and support borrowers


Thank you to everyone involved and to everyone who takes an interest in Purple Shoots


Karen Davies

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