Purple Shoots was incorporated in July and started trading at the end of October – but we had a launch party at the end of February as a celebration of what has been achieved so far and to communicate our vision and what we hope to achieve in the future.
We held it in the Connect Café in Pontypridd, where Purple Shoots is based, and the café manager and staff put on a great spread of food and drinks which was all served by volunteers from the local ATC. Music was provided by local musician Ben Ricketts and magic tricks by local magician Matt Tynan “the Illusionist”. Photography was by Claire Scowcroft – a local professional photographer. So it was all put together by small businesses from the area – anyone there who would like to book any of these people, let me know and I’ll put you in touch!
There was only a short formal part when I spoke generally about the aims of Purple Shoots, which are to address poverty and disadvantage through encouraging entrepreneurship and independence and rebuilding confidence. This is via microfinance, small loans to businesses or to individuals seeking to start a business, and via self-reliant groups, bringing people with similar issues and a similar economic background together in groups which support their members and may eventually lead to business ideas. Noel Matthias, from Wevolution in Glasgow, gave an inspirational speech about his experience with self-reliant groups in Glasgow which have allowed people struggling with poverty and disadvantage to start to solve their own issues, proving their innate skills, resourcefulness and abilities which negative attitudes towards disadvantaged communities often obscure. Peter Saunders also spoke about the initiative between his charitable trust and Purple Shoots which is enabling small loans to be available to people in the Tywyn area of Mid Wales. His Trust will provide the capital for Purple Shoots to lend – Purple Shoots will do the loan assessments and collect repayments and return the capital to the Trust. This is an innovative model for providing finance to communities struggling with unemployment which we are hoping that others may want to replicate in other parts of Wales. The formal part closed with some pictures of some of the borrowers so far (15 – 9 featured in the show) which demonstrated the range of businesses we have been able to help so far.
Over 60 people came to the launch representing a wide cross section of the South Wales community – businesses, government and local authorities, Jobcentres, community organisations, voluntary organisations, churches, banks, local accountants, solicitors and training companies as well as some of the borrowers and of course the trustees and other supporters.