The value of supporting local businesses | Blog | Foundation East

The value of supporting local businesses

21st March 2016 By Katy Ford in Business loans

How to help us to create even more social capital for your county…

In a previous blog I explained how, together, we can help an entrepreneur in your county whose application for a loan has been turned away by the bank. I described some of the reasons mainstream financers turn down business loan applications and the many positive social and economic outcomes achieved through delivering financial products to excluded SMEs across eastern England.

Such outcomes include:

-Creating jobs
-Saving jobs
-Reducing social security (and other) benefit claims
-Improving lifestyles, community services and community spirit
-Increasing people’s confidence
-Improving business skills

In another post, I explained how all of these outcomes added up to generate an average social and economic return (social capital) equivalent to £15.68 for every £1 spent providing the service during the 2013/2014 financial year.

Today, I want to share with you how we helped entrepreneurs in each of the counties we serve during 2014/2015. I also want to encourage you to join our Mutual Society, so that you can help us to keep this momentum going, delivering even more positive social and economic impact to your county this year.


During 2014 to 2015 we gave loans to 7 entrepreneurs in Bedfordshire, enabling them to start or grow their business. Our loans enabled four fulltime positions to be created and saved three fulltime positions, triggering associated reductions in social security (and other) benefit claims and improvements in people’s lifestyles, confidence and skills, as well as improvements in community services and spirit.

Nicola Weeks of George James Bridal in Bedford was one Bedfordshire beneficiary of a Foundation East loan. Her business has grown from strength to strength. Nicola smashed her sales forecasts for the first year and had to adjust her cash-flow forecasts accordingly. Such success did not go unnoticed.  Nicola’s business received multiple awards, plus attention and applaud from national media, and the Prime Minister himself.

You can read her story here.


An established county for Foundation East, Cambridgeshire benefitted from 12 businesses receiving funding, creating 15 full time positions and associated social and economic outcomes.

One loan recipient is Sunflowers Care Ltd, a social enterprise providing nurse led care to children aged 0-18 in a home environment. These young people have a variety of complex health needs including long-term ventilation, respite care and rehabilitation following injury or illness.

Creating 20 fulltime positions is just a scratch on the surface of the local social and economic impact this enterprise delivers. The peace of mind Sunflowers Care provides to the families of the young people, and these young people themselves, cannot be valued in monetary terms.

You can read more about Sunflower Care’s story here.


Another established county for Foundation East, Essex benefitted from 44 loans, creating 34 jobs and safeguarding 26, generating associated social capital.

One beneficiary was Greg Taylor of Retrocorn. His innovative business, making popcorn in an impressive range of retro confectionery flavours (Cola Cube, Rhubarb & Custard or Pear Drop flavour popcorn anyone?) started, fuelled by obsession, in his Nan’s kitchen. Now operating from purposefully adapted premises in Witham, Greg’s business is increasing production beyond the sales plan and employing four people, fulltime.

You can read more about his story here.


Hertfordshire saw loans made to 22 businesses, creating 25 jobs and related social capital.

Kerry Kavanagh was one beneficiary, with a start up loan that enabled her to open her much needed community-focussed and family-friendly café, Perk Coffee, in the Carpenters Park residential area of Watford.

Employing three full time and two part time staff and providing a much needed community space and service for local residents and community groups, Perk Café’s social impact can not be underestimated.

You can read more about Kerry’s story here.


Another new county, Lincolnshire saw loans made to 3 businesses, creating five new fulltime jobs and associated social capital.

Social entrepreneurs Debra O’Neil and Mervyn Williams’ had an idea, developed in association with local community groups and residents in their hometown of Boston. It was for a venue that would fill an identified gap in healthy living provision in an area with a higher than national average level of obesity, inactivity and smoking related health issues. The venue, Boston Body Hub, was a gym and healthy café, to be run as a Community Interest Company (CIC).

Debra and Mervyn’s search for funding was quite an ordeal. Their passion and diligence paid of, and now, thanks in part to Foundation East’s support, Boston Body Hub, a purpose-led venue, designed, delivered and assessed by local people exists.

To date, it has created 1.5 full-time roles, 20 volunteering roles (giving local people focus and purpose) and is delivering many other local social and economic impacts too, which you can read about here.


Another well established county for Foundation East, Suffolk saw 23 entrepreneurs given loans that led to the creation of 36 new jobs and saved a further eight jobs, and related social capital. 

Katherine Packer used her loan to help grow her one-person occupational health advisory service, KSP Consultancy by buying some essential equipment and taking on a second employee on a contractual basis.

Delivering a wide range of occupational health services, mainly to manufacturing company’s in Suffolk, including absence management and rehabilitation, employment screening, health surveillance and stress management, KSP’s local social and economic impact goes far beyond creating employment.

You can read the full story here.


Norfolk saw 31 jobs created and five saved thanks to loans made to 15 local entrepreneurs by Foundation East and associated social capital.

Simon Moore, who grew up on a Norfolk farm as a tenant farmer’s son, was one beneficiary. When Simon learnt upon his father’s death that the farm’s tenure, his home for over 30 years, was not to be passed on, he and his wife Catherine found themselves homeless and without a means to make income.

Norfolk County Council referred Simon and Catherine to Foundation East, advising that our responsible lending criteria meant that we might be able to help them to secure the tenure of a 154 acre farm. We did. Not only did this safeguard their livelihoods, because of their knowledge of and commitment to environmental practice, their new enterprise, S&C Moore Farming Ltd is contributing positively to the local environment too.

You can read more about Simon and Catherine’s story here.


Another new county, Northants saw loans to 3 businesses, creating six jobs and related social capital.

Wellingborough headquartered Brightside Roofing Ltd was one of the Northants’ recipients of a Foundation East loan. Our loan has allowed them to secure new supply and fit contracts, in addition to their ‘bread and butter’ labour only work. This has enabled them to engage more self-employed sub contractors (typically 15 at any one time) as well as adding a new permanent member of staff.

So, there you have it: Foundation East continues to do good in your county, saving your local council money and creating opportunities for your local residents. We really, really, really want to keep on increasing the social capital we’re delivering in your county. Can you help us? Can you signpost entrepreneurs with good business plans our way?

Want to learn more? Please get in touch here.

  • About the Author
    Katy Ford

    Katy Ford

    Katy’s knowledge of community finance is extensive, having worked for Foundation East since its inception in 2004. She is recognised locally as an influential business leader by the Suffolk 100 and nationally, as a founding member of AskIf, an online network of community-based lenders. Previous to moving across to community finance, Katy was the treasury manager for a large insurance company. She also has experience as a SME owner, having run a small hotel.

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