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A mermaid is for life, not just for Christmas (a SWIG update)

With Aaron Hamshire’s recent appointment to the South West Investment Group (SWIG) (previously from one of the high street banks), we thought it was an opportune time to meet up with Aaron and his colleague Mark Thayre to get an update on funding being administered from SWIG.


SWIG is a funding provider, providing loan finance to businesses with viable business propositions who may have struggled to secure funding from traditional lenders, given either a lack of trading history for start ups or potential stumbling blocks with credit history or lack of security. They cover the whole of the South West from Penzance to Gloucester and across to Dorset. You can find out more here.

One of the aspects that impressed us from the meeting was the sheer volume of applicants being approved (for Start Up Loans) by the SWIG team – effectively one a day! This stems from a streamlined approach to the application processing, including:

  • Initial online application
  • If approved, proceed to full applications
  • Business plan, accounts and forecasts (mentoring support available for start ups)
  • Face to face meeting
  • Decision within 1 to 2 weeks

Funding administered by SWIG

Two main types of loan:

1. Start Up Loans

  • £500 to £25,000 per business owner for businesses trading up to 2 years (from when income starts being received, not date of business registration)
  • Classed as a personal loan
  • Possible to combine the amount with multiple business owners up to £100,000
  • Includes purchase of businesses trading less than 2 years
  • Fully funded business support
  • 6% interest rate fixed, initial repayment holidays and repayable up to 5 years
  • No early repayment or late payment charges

2. Business Growth Loans

  • £10,000 – £100,000 for growth investment
  • Growth is measured in terms of jobs created with loan finance for every £10,000 of job created
  • 8 -12% interest fixed, repayable up to 5 years
  • Initial repayment holidays
  • No early repayment or late payment charges


Mark Thayre represented SWIG on a BBC television programme called ‘A Matter of Life and Debt’ and one of the case studies was Mayim Mermaid Academy, a recipient of a Start Up Loan.

Mayim Mermaid Academy offers the opportunity to dress and swim as a mermaid! It is fair to say that the business proposition was a little unorthodox and this had meant that the business struggled to get finance from traditional lenders. As Mark explained, “We get to know and understand the people behind the business and want to support businesses where we can. By taking the time to understand the applicant, we knew she had a viable business opportunity by the information presented and that the loan was serviceable”.

Unfortunately, the programme is no longer available on BBC iPlayer, but you can read more about being a mermaid here.

Start Up Cornwall (you heard it here first…)

In the New Year, we are hosting our annual ‘Finance in South West, Finance in South and Finance in Cornwall’ events. The first two mentioned events will include morning sessions for start-ups. For Finance in Cornwall, a longer afternoon session purely for start-ups, imaginatively titled ‘Start Up Cornwall’. Watch this space for more details on this which will involve SWIG and others talking about the funding and business support that is available in the county for young businesses. I know at least one of my colleagues is just as excited about this event as he is about Christmas!

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New!

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