Purple Shoots

How microfinance charity Purple Shoots is creating businesses – and transforming deprived areas

Purple Shoots

Katie Davies of Cwmbran who set up Pretty Little Paws, a dog grooming salon, with a loan from Purple Shoots

Entrepreneurs helped by innovative microfinance charity Purple Shoots told politicians and business leaders the lending is transforming lives in deprived areas of Wales.

The charity, which is now more than five years old, was showcasing its work to Assembly Members at the Senedd in Cardiff in the May 1 event entitled Does Poverty Mean Exclusion?

Ethical lender Purple Shoots, which is based in Pontypridd, helps people on benefits or a low income to start their own businesses. It lends to people who are excluded by traditional lenders such as banks.

Since 2013, Purple Shoots loaned more than £1.2 million to people across Wales to create businesses and transform communities.

Founder Karen Davies said too many entrepreneurial people were trapped by a benefits system which drains them of all funds before they can claim benefit. That includes funds to establish a new business.

Many people from deprived areas also found a “Got nothing? Get nothing…” attitude from traditional sources of business funding.

People who claim benefits are stigmatised despite recent research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation blowing apart stereotypes like the idea benefit claimants have lots of children.

“In fact, the study found that just 8% of benefit claimants have more than two children,” Karen said.

Instead of looking at stereotypes, Purple Shoots understands people within communities know better than anyone else how to transform their economies.

Jane Hutt, the Deputy Minister and Chief Whip, praised the work of Purple Shoots. She pledged to look at how the Assembly could support the charity.

What Purple Shoots borrowers say…

One business which began with Purple Shoots’ help was Tiff’s Cleaning Angels, a Cardiff-based business established by Tiffany Bramley.

At the event yesterday, she said: “After the death of my daughter five years ago, I needed time to grieve. But, it meant that I forgot to pay a few bills and it affected my credit rating.

She wanted to rebuild the business but the bank highlighted her credit history.

She said: “I met Karen and she became my angel.”

Tiffany creates strong relationships with her vulnerable clients. She offers them cleaning and general household tasks.

“The aim is to be a domestic angel, helping to give people respite if they have elderly parents, for example,” she said.

Experienced dementia nurse Dr Jane Mullins also attended the event to outline how Purple Shoots has helped her.

She had dealt with financial struggle after family illness and her own ill health, yet knew she wanted to start a business to transform her family’s lives and help educate people about dementia.

She attempted to get funding to start a training programme to teach people to care for those with the condition but found no funding available from several official sources.

Jane talked to Purple Shoots and the charity gave her a loan to establish Duet Care.

“It’s named after dignity, understanding, and empathy training (DUET). We train family members, in particular, on how to support people with it,” she said.

She was also able to complete her PhD, and wrote and self-published her book, Finding the Light in Dementia.

Purple Shoots

Purple Shoots gives the Welsh economy a £12 million boost 

Purple Shoots estimates the impact of their lending has seen a benefit of around £12 million to the Welsh economy over the past five and a half years.

The businesses it has helped create include a café, a cake maker, a dog grooming parlour, a kayak angling business, a training programme for families whose loved ones have dementia, a stonemason, a pottery, an embroiderer, and a jeweller.

The average loan size is £2,700 and 70% go to the bottom 50% of deprived areas in Wales.

Other statistics since 2013 include:

  • More than 370 new businesses started
  • More than 460 loans granted
  • 96% of borrowers were on benefits when they were given a loan
  • Around 400 people have been able to get off benefits

Purple Shoots also helps like-minded people to set up self-reliant groups in their area. They look at ways of creating income for their members and often lead to the establishment of community businesses.

The charity’s success has sparked interest in Scotland. It is in talks about how to create a similar initiative there and Purple Shoots has established self-reliant groups in the west of England.

Purple Shoots is looking for more corporate donors and sponsors to help more people to get out of poverty.

Its Purple Spoon Club encourages people to give regular donations to the charity. Find out more here.

Would you like to become a Purple Shoots donor or find out more? Please call Karen Davies on 07726 599267. You can discover more about Purple Shoots here

Read more about unusual businesses.

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