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2016 Winter Newsletter

Welcome to the Winter newsletter which is reporting on activity since July 2015 – another very busy period with lots to tell.

Purple Shoots was set up as a not-for-profit microfinance institution which means it provides 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.

Purple Shoots has now made a total of 195 small loans since it started at the end of 2013. Some of these loans have been follow on loans to early borrowers, but a total of 145 new businesses have been started and over 150 people have been helped out of unemployment. Over £425,000 has been invested through the loans and the economic impact of these, calculated using a recognized tool developed by the Responsible Finance Association, is more than 10 times this figure at over £5million. These are a few quotes from some of the borrowers:

"PURPLE shoots is giving me the start I need its fantastic I would recommend you to anyone thankyou”

“We’d both like to thank you once again for making it possible to make a start with our businesses and a more meaningful and positive life.”

“I’m thankful someone out there can help.  this is going to give me a stepping stone to something fantastic. You are a dream maker.”

An increasing number of the loans have now been fully repaid – either early or having gone the full term of the loan and met every repayment. This means that those funds can be reinvested in new loans.







Some of the recent borrowers: Lynne Maplanka, nail and beauty specialist in Llanelli, Daryl Evans and the team at Cylent Beatz, a music production company in Aberdare;  Richard Nock, photographer and printer in Pontyclun, RCT; Andrew Carruthers, builder in Aberdare; Martin Foley, stamp dealer Ponytypridd;

The demand for loans is still extremely high and we are currently focussed on trying to increase the capital base of Purple Shoots so that we can meet it. Donations from supporters are always welcome and we can still offer Community Investment Tax Relief plus a good interest rate to anyone who would like to lend money to Purple Shoots for a 3-5 year period. Some of our early investors under this scheme have been receiving their first interest payments. If you would like to know more about investing for social impact with Purple Shoots, have a look at our website

Self-reliant Groups

Key features of SRGs are:

-        Self-reliance, drawing on the group’s own strengths and skills, networks and connections (and helping members realize they have these!)

-        Solidarity – mutual support provided by the group in which trust and friendships grow

-        Micro-enterprise – getting to the point of starting a small business, either collectively as a group or individually with the support of the other group members.

The aim is to help people grow or rebuild their confidence, discover their skills and talents, grow new ones, develop income generating ideas and even start their own small businesses or get back into the workplace. They are all about helping people reach their potential – Purple Shoots believes that everyone has potential and needs an opportunity to reach it.

There are a small number of groups running well and some are about to start this month.

Before Christmas, Purple Shoots took on a double stall at the Cardiff Christmas Market for 10 days – this was for borrowers and for any of the groups to test trade ideas. In total 6 businesses and 2 groups had products on the stall and all of them did well. A further unexpected but welcome outcome was that a young lady who we took on for 4 weeks from the Jobcentre on work experience to help with the promotion and administration of the stall, got a full-time job afterwards with one of our contacts.



There is a very exciting opportunity to restart clothing manufacture in the Valleys. We have linked up with two fashion designers who have developed an ethical brand and a range of clothing and they are committed to manufacturing in Wales. We are intending to start with some small self-reliant groups making clothing on a small scale and then expand the group numbers, co-ordinated by a central organization. We have begun promoting this, looking for ex-Burberry employees who could spearhead groups – we ran a small event just before Christmas in the ex-Burberry factory. The next step is to run some small workshops in two or three local communities which will rekindle confidence in skills and hopefully enthuse people to move forward. The first two will be in Merthyr (run by another Purple Shoots borrower who has a small sewing business) and in Treherbert.

From Foodbank to Funded:

The value of working in collaboration with other organisations has been demonstrated very clearly recently in the stories of two borrowers. 

Purple Shoots has an office in St Catherine’s Church in the centre of Pontypridd. The church is a distribution point for Foodbank and also runs a CAP (Christians Against Poverty) Job Club. Church members involved in these two things were concerned that whilst they were good things to do in themselves, in isolation they couldn’t effect any lasting change on the people who came to them.

So together, we have developed a more holistic approach, creating a complete pathway for individuals who need help to take the next step to improve their lives. It includes:

·        help for a crisis (Foodbank),

·        help with looking forward, and training and mentoring (Jobs Club and ongoing support from the network of helpers, including volunteering opportunities)

·        help with income generating ideas (through one to one sessions or via self-reliant groups)

·        and help to start a business (through Purple Shoots.)

As a result, one of my recent loans was to a young man who originally came for a Foodbank parcel. The church nurtured him through the Job Club, rebuilding confidence, helping him with some specific issues, giving him some work experience in the church’s cafe and finally helping him identify what he would really like to do and bringing him to Purple Shoots for a very small loan to start it up. He is now well on the way to independence from the benefit system and to being a successful business owner.

A second loan in the same week was to a lady who has also been supported by the church. She had come through the Job Club, had a small loan from Purple Shoots and now has her own little business with a growing customer base in the town centre.

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


Karen Davies




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